CONVERSION

AN ACT OF VIOLENCE
(A Selected Compilation from Various Sources) * * * * * *
“This proselytization will mean no peace in the world. Conversions are harmful to India. If I had the power and could legislate I should certainly stop all proselytizing.”

-- Mahatma Gandhi
(Father of the Nation)

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“Conversions are to blame for some of the religious violence that erupts in the country. Conversions lead to animosity among religious groups. They also lead to retaliation by re-conversion. As a result, communal rioting, arson and looting follow. Induced conversions are a grave threat to national and world peace and harmony.”

-- R. Venkataraman
(Former President of India)

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“Conversion is an act of violence: Aggressive religions have no God-given right to destroy ancient faiths and cultures.”

-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati
(Head of Arsha Vidya Gurukula)

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“Well-organized religious conversion can be a potential bomb to explode cultural values, disturb political affiliations and torpedo national loyalties.”

-- Laura Kelly
(Author of “Conversions in India a Geopolitical time bomb”)

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“Attempts at conversion should be considered a mortal assault on local cultures and should be totally banned. Conversions are forbidden by law in China. Here we take a lenient view of conversion and Christian bodies have been taking advantage of the Hindu sense of tolerance.”

-- M. V. Kamath
(Renowned Journalist and Author)

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Religious leaders from around the world call organized conversion a form of cultural imperialism and describe it as an aggressive act against indigenous cultures:

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-- First World Congress for the Preservation of Religious Diversity

PROLOGUE
Why Religious Conversions are Wrong
In the first week of July 03, I received an e-mail message captioned: “RELIGIOUS CONVERSIONS ARE WRONG!” from Sri Girish Parikh, (E-mail: <girish116@yahoo.com>), an NRI, residing at Chicago. A staunch devotee of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, he is an author and journalist. Recently, he wrote a letter to the Editor of the TIME (USA) Magazine, a copy of which was forwarded to me. It read as follows: “The cover story of TIME (USA) Magazine (Web site: www.time.com) ‘Should Christians convert Muslims?’ [RELIGION, June 30] raises the question: Why should Christians convert non-Christians to Christianity? The basic premise of any religious conversion movement is wrong! When Christians try to convert those not belonging to Christianity, they usually assume that non-Christian religions are false. Indeed, it is a wrong assumption. The other religions are equally true as Christianity. Hindus, who are also the target for conversion, not merely tolerate but ‘accept all religions as true’ as Swami Vivekananda revealed at the World’s Parliament of Religions on Sept. 11, 1893 in Chicago. The time is long overdue that other religions also accept all religions as true. ‘As many faiths, so many paths’ leading to the same God, taught Sri Ramakrishna, the guru of Swami Vivekananda, from his own experiences. The result of such understanding and practice will be lasting world peace and prosperity.” But the fact is that the aggressive religions are dogmatically wedded to the credo of “superiority” and “uniqueness”. They harp upon it day in and day out, respecting no other religion than their own. They therefore love to indulge in the competing game of increasing their numbers by winning and saving the souls of ‘Kafirs’ and ‘Heathens’ -- these being the two designations they have conferred upon all those who do not subscribe to their one-way traffic to Heaven which lies far away, beyond the clouds. The aggressive religions have thus taken it as their God-given right to destroy ancient faiths and cultures. Consequently, individuals and societies are the victims of violence brought about by conversions, the world over. In this context, I am reminded of a very thoughtful observation made by a statesman of India. Sri R. Venkataraman, the former President of India, rightly pointed out: “Conversions are to blame for some of the religious violence that erupts in the country. Conversions lead to animosity among religious groups. They also lead to retaliation by re-conversion. As a result, communal rioting, arson and looting follow. Induced conversions are a grave threat to national and world peace and harmony.” This, in a nutshell, is the adverse consequence of conversion, which should be noted well. Laura Kelly, the author of “Conversions in India a Geopolitical time bomb”, warns: “Well-organized religious conversion can be a potential bomb to explode cultural values, disturb political affiliations and torpedo national loyalties…” Therefore, he says that the “Conversions have to stop”. Further, he goes on to say, “In this context one would like to remind the Christian missionaries ‘that thou shall not convert’ as the eleventh commandment. Theocentric and theocratic eclectics are as dangerous as nuclear warheads. The church's concept of ‘my god is your god, but your god is no god,’ does not foster harmony and fraternity. This has to be changed into ‘your god is my god and my god is your god and accepted by people of all religions…’ Secularism should not come to be understood that Hindus in India could be forced into inaction in the face of dire threats to their religion.” The Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was forthright when he stated the obvious: “This proselytization will mean no peace in the world. Conversions are harmful to India. If I had the power and could legislate I should certainly stop all proselytizing.” “In fact missionary activity is like ideological warfare,” reminds the renowned Vedic scholar of the U.S.A., David Frawley. According to him, “It is systematic, motivated and directed, that looks to establish a particular religion for all human beings, in which the diversity of human race, mind and needs is forgotten.” Further, “The global missionary business is one of the largest businesses in the world. Not only Catholic Church but also various Protestant organizations have set aside billions to convert non-Christians to Christianity. Organized conversion activity is like trained army invading a country from the outside. The

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missionary army goes to communities where often there is little resistance to it, or which may not be aware of its power or motives. It will take advantage of the communities that are tolerant and open-minded about religion and use that to promote a missionary agenda that destroys this tolerance.” As noted by the renowned Journalist and Author, Sri M. V. Kamath, “Attempts at conversion should be considered a mortal assault on local cultures and should be totally banned. Conversions are forbidden by law in China. Here we take a lenient view of conversion and Christian bodies have been taking advantage of the Hindu sense of tolerance." The Religious leaders from around the world who participated in the “First World Congress for the Preservation of Religious Diversity”, held at Delhi, called organized conversion a form of cultural imperialism and have described it as an aggressive act against indigenous cultures. Hindu seers have strongly condemned religious conversions. For them “Conversion is an act of violence”, and they have categorically declared that the “Aggressive religions have no God-given right to destroy ancient faiths and cultures.” They have therefore welcomed the recent promulgation of the ordinance by the Government of Tamil Nadu to ban religious conversions ‘by use of force or by allurements or by any fraudulent means’. The Kanchipuram Sankaracharya, HH Sri Jayendra Saraswati, has also supported the Tamil Nadu Bill banning forcible conversions. In the words of a legal luminary, Sri M. N. Rao, the former Chief Justice, High Court of Himachal Pradesh, “When the highest court of this country has upheld the constitutionality of laws prohibiting fraudulent conversions, any criticism that these laws are aimed at depriving the rights of minority religions is absolutely baseless. Attacking the Union Government or the State Governments on the ground that they are failing to uphold the Constitution by allowing the above laws to come into existence, is clearly motivated and aimed at gaining cheap publicity in international fora. What is surprising is that no responsible functionary from the government or major political parties so far has presented a correct picture as to the entire controversy. The United Nations Sub-Commission on Human Rights must be apprised of the legal position obtaining in this country before further damage is done by ill-informed critics”. Citing laws to prohibit forcible conversions, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had concluded that there was no religious freedom in India. Referring to this wrong conclusion of the USCIRF, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, head of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, recently said that India should set the record straight. The inclusion of India by the USCIRF in its list of Countries of Particular Concern is unfair, pointed out the Swami. The Indian Government should therefore constitute a similar commission to present before the world the country's highly accommodative multi-religious society, he stated. India was a place of refuge for other religions and yet all of them were accommodated. We should have our own set of paradigms for religious freedom and others cannot judge us. The Indian commission, comprising leaders of all religions, should study the situation across the country and give a report to the USCIRF which was oblivious of the sentiments of the Indian people while compiling its report but which will definitely respect the factual report of another nation's commission. Swami Dayananda Saraswati said the Indian commission should have members who could view the situation dispassionately and submit an authentic report. Referring to the observation made by Pope John Paul II to Indian bishops in the Vatican recently that free exercise of the natural right to religious freedom was prohibited in India, Swami Dayananda Saraswati said it was a serious charge, which deserved an appropriate response from the citizens and religious leaders. In this context, he appreciated the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalitha's criticism of the Pope's remarks. She had stated that Pope had no business to comment on the anti-forcible conversion law recently enacted either by her Government or any other State in the country. “The Pope has no authority to talk about any legislation passed by democratically-elected governments in India,” Ms. Jayalalitha told the media, reacting to the concerns expressed by the Pope over laws against conversions in India.

A Word about this Brochure
Under the circumstances, this small compilation is being placed before one and all, particularly the elders and perceptive readers, for a careful perusal, reflection and deliberation on the subject matter. The contents hereof are selected from various reliable and authentic sources, which are mentioned at the end of each

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item in the brochure. They provide a lot of information and food for a serious thought, to initiate a public debate on the menace of conversions. Aptly titled: “CONVERSION, AN ACT OF VIOLENCE”, this brochure, a labour of love, seeks to draw the attention of one and all to the dangers of conversions. Also, it clearly explains how conversion is an act of violence against the individuals and the society, and strongly urges the authorities to take all possible steps to check conversions effectively and constitutionally, with a view to maintain public order, peace and harmony in the country. The compiler hopes that his humble attempt would go a long way in initiating a public debate on the subject matter, in order to educate and enlighten one and all, including the members of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom who have come to a wrong conclusion about the religious freedom in India. Comments and suggestions from the esteemed readers to rectify the defects, if any, in the compilation, and to make its contents more effective, useful and comprehensive, will be thankfully received. Finally, the compiler would like to take the opportunity to repeat and underline the thoughtful words of the former President of India, Sri R. Venkataraman, highlighting the adverse consequences of conversion: "Conversions are to blame for some of the religious violence that erupts in the country. Conversions lead to animosity among religious groups. They also lead to retaliation by re-conversion. As a result, communal rioting, arson and looting follow. Induced conversions are a grave threat to national and world peace and harmony." * * *

Conversion is Perversion
Swami Vivekananda
=========================================================================== “The Christian is not to become a Hindu or Buddhist, nor is a Buddhist or a Hindu to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth…. Holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exaltedly character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the other, I pity him from the bottom of my heart.” (-- Swami Vivekananda, in the final session of the World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago, September 27, 1893). “Hinduism, he said, did not believe in conversion, calling it perversion…. How foolish it was for an exponent of one religion to declare that another man’s belief was wrong…. In the matter of religion there were two extremes, the bigot and the atheist. There was some good in the atheist, but the bigot lived only for his own little-self.” (SV, remarking about conversion and bigotry in the course of his lecture on the “Divinity of Man”, at the Unitarian Church, as reported by “Detroit Tribune”, on February 18, 1894). “Christian missionaries come to offer life but only on condition that the Hindus become Christians, abandoning the faith of their fathers and forefathers. Is it right?…. If you wish to illustrate the meaning of ‘brotherhood’, treat Hindus more kindly, even though he be a Hindu and is faithful to his religion. Send missionaries to teach them better to earn a piece of bread, and not teach them metaphysical nonsense.” (SV, in the course of his speech “Religion not the crying need of India”, delivered in the evening session of the tenth day of the World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago, October 11, 1993). “I have often been asked in this country if I am going to try to convert the people here. I take this for an insult. I do not believe in this idea of conversion…. We tolerate everything but intolerance.” (SV, speaking at the Central Church, November 27, 1893). I am proud to belong to a religions which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations on the earth. I am proud

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to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very years in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.” (SV, in the course of his Historic Chicago Address, September 11, 1893). ===========================================================================

CONVERSION
AN ACT OF VIOLENCE
Contents
I THUS THEY SPOKE – 9-14
India should set the record straight – 9

-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati * * *
The Pope has no authority to talk about any legislation passed by democratically elected governments in India – 9

-- Jayalalitha * * *
I support Tamil Nadu bill banning forcible conversions – 9

-- Kanchipuram Sankaracharya * * *
I welcome the promulgation of the ordinance by the Government of Tamil Nadu to ban religious conversions 'by use of force or by allurements or by any fraudulent means' – 10

-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati * * *
Religious leaders from around the world call organized conversion a form of cultural imperialism and describe it as an aggressive act against indigenous cultures – 10

-- First World Congress for the Preservation of Religious Diversity * * *
Hindu seers condemn religious conversions in India – 11

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The Conversion Law and Vote Bank Politics – 12

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Religious Conversions in India -- For a few dollars more – 13

II THUS THEY WROTE – 15-48
1 CONVERSION IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE – 15 Aggressive religions have no God-given right to destroy ancient faiths and cultures

By Swami Dayananda Saraswati (Head of Arsha Vidya Gurukula)
2 CONVERSION IS VIOLENCE – 16 Open letter to His Holiness the Pope John Paul II

From Swami Dayananda Saraswati
3 THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT: 'THOU SHALL NOT CONVERT' – 17 Well-organized religious conversion can be a potential bomb to explode cultural values, disturb political affiliations and torpedo national loyalties

By Laura Kelly (Author of “Conversions in India a Geopolitical time bomb”)
4 PUTTING AN END TO CONVERSION ACTIVITY – 23

By M V Kamath (Renowned Journalist and Author)
5 MEETING THE THREAT OF CONVERSION IN INDIA – 25 6 PROSELYTIZATION IN INDIA: AN INDIAN CHRISTIAN'S PERSPECTIVE –36

By C. Alex Alexander (Naturalized US citizen and a retired physician executive)
7 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM -- LEGAL RESTRICTIONS ON CONVERSIONS – 47

By M. N. RAO (Former Chief Justice, High Court of Himachal Pradesh)

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Appendix:

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CHURCH BACKING TRIPURA REBELS – 49 SEPARATIST MOVEMENTS IN NORTHEAST INDIA DERIVE SUPPORT FROM FOREIGN MISSIONARY GROUPS – 50

“This proselytization will mean no peace in the world….”
“This proselytization will mean no peace in the world. Conversions are harmful to India. If I had the power and could legislate I should certainly stop all proselytizing.”
-- MAHATMA GANDHI

“To the Indian Christian, Jesus is the whiteman’s god marching with a sword in one hand and the Union Jack in the other.”
-- DR. S. RADHAKRISHNAN (Speaking to an audience in Oxford)

“In fact missionary activity is like ideological warfare. It is systematic, motivated and directed, that looks to establish a particular religion for all human beings, in which the diversity of human race, mind and needs is forgotten. The global missionary business is one of the largest businesses in the world. Not only Catholic Church but also various Protestant organizations have set aside billions to convert non- Christians to Christianity. Organized conversion activity is like trained army invading a country from the outside. The missionary army goes to communities where often there is little resistance to it, or which may not be aware of its power or motives. It will take advantage of the communities that are tolerant and open-minded about religion and use that to promote a missionary agenda that destroys this tolerance.”
-- DAVID FRAWLEY

“The government of Meghalaya is run by Christian officers. This is a rare privilege in India. The recent developments are a god given opportunity to the Garo Hills for the furtherance of his kingdom. -- “The growth of Baptist churches”
(Page 115)

“There is freedom to serve to China right, but no freedom to do wrong or upset the Government of China... As for religious freedom, I must make it clear to you that we have sent away these foreign missionaries who were really at heart colonists and who did harm to China. They will not be allowed to come back... The doors are indeed closed once and for all in China to the imperialistic Christian missionaries.”
-- CHOU EN LAI

“Well-organized religious conversion can be a potential bomb to explode cultural values, disturb political affiliations and torpedo national loyalties… Conversions have to stop. In this context one would like to remind the Christian missionaries ‘that thou shall not convert’ as the eleventh commandment. Theocentric and theocratic eclectics are as dangerous as nuclear warheads. The church's concept of “my god is your god, but your god is no god,” does not foster harmony and fraternity. This has to be changed into “your god is my god and my god is your god and accepted by people of all religions… Secularism should not come to be understood that Hindus in India could be forced into inaction in the face of dire threats to their religion.” “The church is terribly vast organization and with huge resources to save souls. “It costs 145 billion dollars to operate global Christianity,'' records a book on evangelization. The church commands four million full time workers, runs 13,000 libraries, publishes 22,000 periodicals and four billion tracts a year, operates 1,890 radio and TV stations. It has a quarter million foreign missionaries, over 400 institutions to train them''. These are figures of 1989…. No state, especially a developing country like India can cope with such pressure where full time missionaries have increased from 420 in 1973 to 5,986 in 1998. Any one caring to visit the resource availability to Christian organizations can log on to http: // www.bethany.com/profile/c india.html to study conversion plans not only for Arunachal Pradesh but also for all India. India is divided into 186 individual people groups. And a long description is followed by advice on how to convert each to Christianity.

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“On March 14, 2000 in a fully televised speech Pope John Paul II asked for forgiveness for the past errors of the Roman Catholic Church during a solemn mass in St. Peters Basilica…But the activities of the church are continuing unabatedly and have not been stopped and that is the root of the problem.”
-- LAURA KELLY

(Author of “Conversions in India a Geopolitical time bomb”)

“…. Herein lies the potential for violence.”
“The Western nations have four Arms: The Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Church.”
-- J. C. KUMARAPPA (A famous Gandhian thinker, and himself a good Christian)

“Conversion of every Non-Muslim to Islam is the duty of every Muslim. The day I would succeed in converting Gandhiji to Islam would be a golden day in my life.”
-- MOHAMMED ALI (Close associate of Gandhiji)

“A nation that believes in the Christian religion, which does not believe that other religions can also offer salvation, is as bad as the Islam it seeks to fight. Or as good, not better. It is unlike Hindu India, which believes that what Hinduism does to ferry a Hindu to heaven can be equally well accomplished by Christianity and Islam. A religion like Hinduism, therefore a nation like Hindu India is unknown to the Abrahamic faiths. The fault of these two Palestine cousins is that they claim the exclusive wisdom to salvation and so, only their followers can reach heaven. Consequence, others should change their faith. As Swami Dayananda Saraswati put it, herein lies the potential for violence in both.”
-- S. GURUMURTHY (Columnist)

“MAYNARDVILLE, Tennessee (USA): Fourteen-year-old India Tracy said she was harassed and attacked by classmates for nearly three years after she declined to attend Baptist Pastor Gary Beeler's annual Evangelistic Crusade because of her family's pagan religion. Her family has filed a federal lawsuit against Union County schools, claiming the crusade, prayers over the loudspeaker, a Christmas nativity play, a Bible handout and other proselytizing activities in the rural school system have become so pervasive they are a threat to safety and religious liberty. India said she was called "Satan worshipper" and accused of eating babies when it was revealed she was a pagan. She said she was taunted, found slurs painted over her locker and was injured when classmates assaulted her and slammed her head into the locker. After Christmas break in early 2002, India said three boys chased her down a hall at Horace Maynard Middle School, grabbed her by the neck and said, "You better change your religion or we'll change it for you." She broke free and fled into the girls' bathroom. A teacher stopped the boys from following her, the lawsuit said. "That was pretty much the last straw because she was terrified," said India's father, Greg Tracy. The Tracys took India out of school on Feb. 26, 2002.”
Courtesy: <HINDUVOICE.NET>

“If you had the same positive felling for your own religion, the true mother of our country, you could never bear to see any Hindu brother converted into a Christian. Nevertheless you see this occurring everyday, yet you are quite indifferent. Where is your faith? Where is your patriotism? Everyday Christian missionaries abuse Hindusim to your faces, and yet how many are there amongst you who will stand up in its defense, whose blood boils with righteous indignation at the fact? Forget not, -- ‘One Hindu Brother going out of our fold is not just one Hindu less but it is one enemy more’. ”
-- SWAMI VIVEKANANDA (The Hindu Monk of India)

“Foreign funds are flowing into our slums through foreign agents with the sole ulterior and anti-national motive of converting our innocent Hindu brethren to foreign religion. The innocent but devout Hindu living in slums are constantly being bombarded by the propaganda of foreign funded alien outfits which entice their victims into anti-national activities, causing immense misery to the hapless lot. Defeating such attempts and liberating our downtrodden brethren from the grips of the Professional Proselytizers is the need of the hour…. After attaining independence, the national spirit and spiritual oneness have again

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weakened, and narrow-minded ness tries to envelop the whole country. At this critical juncture, our objective should be to strengthen the national spirit, spiritual outlook and unity. ”
-- VINAYAGHAR V. MURALI (Fonder-Organiser, Vinayagha Chathurthi Movement in Tamil Nadu) Ref : Vinayagha Chathurthi Mass Appeals from 1984 to 2002

CONVERSION
AN ACT OF VIOLENCE
I THUS THEY SPOKE INDIA SHOULD SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT

-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati
The inclusion of India by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its list of Countries of Particular Concern is unfair. The Indian Government should constitute a similar commission to present before the world the country's “highly accommodative” multi-religious society, Dayananda Saraswati, head of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam here, said today. Citing laws to prohibit forcible conversions, the USCIRF had concluded that there was no religious freedom in India, he told presspersons. India was “a place of refuge for other religions” and yet all of them were accommodated. “We should have our own set of paradigms for religious freedom and others cannot judge us”. The Indian commission, comprising leaders of all religions, should study the situation across the country and give a report to the USCIRF, “which was oblivious of the sentiments of the Indian people while compiling its report but which will definitely respect the factual report of another nation's commission”. Sri Dayananda Saraswati said the Indian commission should have members who could view the situation dispassionately and submit an authentic report. Referring to the observation made by Pope John Paul II to Indian bishops in the Vatican recently that free exercise of the natural right to religious freedom was prohibited in India, he said it was a serious charge, which deserved an appropriate response from the citizens and religious leaders. In this context, he appreciated the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa's criticism of the Pope's remarks. --------------------Source: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2003/06/24/stories/2003062405830400.htm June 24, 2003 ===========================================================================

THE POPE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO TALK ABOUT ANY LEGISLATION PASSED BY DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENTS IN INDIA

-- Jayalalitha
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, today "bluntly" asserted that Pope John Paul II had no "business" or "authority" to comment on the anti-forcible conversion law recently enacted either by her Government or any other State in the country.

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"The Pope has no authority to talk about any legislation passed by democratically-elected governments in India," Ms. Jayalalithaa told the media here, reacting to the concerns expressed by the Pope recently over laws against conversions in India. When a scribe pointed out that the Pope was the supreme pontiff of the Christian community, the Chief Minister shot back: "So what?" ------------------------------------------<http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2003/06/14/stories/2003061405001100.htm> Jun 14, 2003 ============================================================================

I SUPPORT TAMIL NADU BILL BANNING FORCIBLE CONVERSIONS

-- Kanchipuram Sankaracharya
While denying that he was instrumental in bringing the Tamil Nadu bill banning forcible conversions, His Holiness did say that he supported the bill. At present there was no bar on people carrying out charitable activities and religious organizations had every right to do so. The bill objected to it only when it was done with a motive to convert people, he said. ---------------------------------------------------------[<http://www.hinduonnet.com/2002/1...720400.htm>] October 31, 2002

I WELCOME THE PROMULGATION OF THE ORDINANCE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF TAMIL NADU TO BAN RELIGIOUS CONVERSIONS 'BY USE OF FORCE OR BY ALLUREMENTS OR BY ANY FRAUDULENT MEANS'

-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati
INDIA, October 21, 2002: Excerpted from an article by Swami Dayananda Saraswati: "I welcome the promulgation of the ordinance by the Government of Tamil Nadu to ban religious conversions 'by use of force or by allurements or by any fraudulent means.' This is a long-awaited step. A step that ensures for the citizens of Tamil Nadu the most basic of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human rights adopted by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) in December 1948, holds in Article 18 that 'Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief.' While the article endorses each person's right to change his or her religion, it does not in any way allow for another person to change a given person's religion. On the contrary, a systematic coercive effort to impose one's religion on another 'by use of force or by allurements or by any fraudulent means' is a clear violation of this basic human right. The denigration of one's religion and the humiliation that accompanies the conversion experience are violations of the dignity ensured to every human being. With the conversion experience come shame, isolation, deep personal conflict and ultimately, the seeds for discord. History testifies to the devastating loss of rich and diverse cultures, gone forever in the aftermath of religious conversion. I appeal to the political leadership of all other States in India to promulgate similar laws and make sure that all possibilities of religious conflict are avoided, and the tradition of religious harmony in India is maintained." ----------------------------------------[Source: <http://www.audarya-fellowship.com/showflat/cat/WorldNews/32564/5/collapsed/5/o/1>] 11/29/02 ===========================================================================

RELIGIOUS LEADERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD CALLED ORGANIZED CONVERSION A FORM OF CULTURAL IMPERIALISM AND DESCRIBED IT AS AN AGGRESSIVE ACT AGAINST INDIGENOUS CULTURES

-- First World Congress for the Preservation of Religious Diversity
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Religious leaders from around the world and from many faiths convened in New Delhi, India on November 15-18 for the first world congress for the preservation of religious diversity. The purpose of the congress was to call for the abandonment of organized and planned convergence and for the protection for religious traditions that have been targeted for proselytization. Religious leaders see this as an important preliminary step for the fostering of mutual respect and better cooperation among religions. Several hundred religious leaders participated in the world congress, which produced steps outlining greater religious cooperation. The Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and His Holiness the Dalai Lama opened the congress. The Dalai Lama spoke about the need to preserve religious diversity, which is one of the greatest treasures of the human heritage. The Prime Minister stressed that religious tolerance is the basis of every great religious tradition. Religious leaders from around the world called organized conversion a form of cultural imperialism and described it as an aggressive act against indigenous cultures. “Organized conversion has brought pain to the individuals involved and great harm to their culture and tradition”, said Swami Dayananda Saraswati, organizer of the conference. “Individuals should have the freedom to choose their own religion but they should not be subjected to outside pressures”. The congress called for a redefining of those theologies that promote organized conversion and called for a 5-year moratorium on proselytization to create a more open and positive arena for dialogue. A planning committee is being established to form a global commission for the preservation of religious diversity. The commission will organize dialogue around the world to foster better inter-religious cooperation. Shri Shri Dayananda Saraswati is a traditional teacher of Vedanta and an eminent scholar of Sanskrit. He has established three institutions of learning and culture: two in India, the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Anaikkatti and the Swami Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh; one in the USA, the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. -------------------------------------------------Source: [<http://www.millenniumpeacesummit.org/news011119.html>] November 19, 2001

HINDU SEERS CONDEMN RELIGIOUS CONVERSIONS IN INDIA
"If a person is converted by proselytization, he's uprooted from his tradition. There's a need to see we all live in harmony and mutual respect,” Swami Dayananda Saraswati told a conference on preservation of religious diversity. "Conversions are neither advisable nor desirable. The religion into which a person is born is the best for his spiritual upliftment," a Hindu seer from southern India said. "Forced conversions will never be tolerated. Different religions should coexist and live in mutual harmony," he said. Hindu religious leaders and scholars voiced strong opposition on Thursday to religious conversions in India and urged different faiths to live together in harmony instead. Participants at the congress said different faiths should respect each other's traditions rather than try to destroy them Hindu seers at the conference did not single out any particular religion. But conversion is a sensitive issue in India where Christian missionaries are accused of using lures such as schools and health care to get poor people to join their faith. "You should not try to convert by force, fraud or inducements," former President R. Venkataraman told the conference. Venkataraman said conversions were to blame for some of the religious violence in the country that erupts in the country. "Conversions lead to animosity among religious groups. They also lead to

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retaliation by reconversion," Venkataraman said. "As a result, communal rioting, arson and looting follow. Induced conversions are a grave threat to national and world peace and harmony," he said. -------------------------------------------------------[Source: <http://in.news.yahoo.com/011115/64/18vhe.html>] November 15, 2002 ===========================================================================

THE CONVERSION LAW AND VOTE BANK POLITICS
Even as an eleven-member Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India is seized with deciding upon the definition of "minority educational institution" for months, the Tamilnadu Chief Minster J. Jayalalitha did last week something unprecedented. She snubbed the managers of the Church-run educational institutions in Tamilnadu with threats of unleashing ESMA on them, when they bandied that well-worn weapon of "in protest, we shall close down minority institutions" on October 24. They did. With bated breath, the state, nay, the entire country awaited the follow-up action on the CM's warning. Which came thick and fast. On October 25, Jayalalitha Government slammed notices on over 400 institutions run by minority outfits demanding explanation for the unauthorized closure on October 24. The managers, as is common knowledge now, were protesting against the 'Tamilnadu Forcible Conversions Prevention Ordinance' slated for tabling as a Bill in the State Assembly now in session. Pathetically enough, the protest meeting on October 24 with an assortment of Padris belonging to several denominations - with Muslim League's Sulaiman Sait and his ilk thrown in - seated on the dias was hijacked as it were by a jittery Karunanidhi and his cohorts in the Left. Leaders of Congress and Tamil Maanila Congress gleefully found themselves there. They are never tired of pleasing their leader. Later State Congress President S. Balakrishnan mouthed his fears thus: "they (Christians) run so many schools, hospitals and orphanages. If they are antagonized thus, it is the Hindus who will be the sufferers because most of the beneficiaries of these institutions are Hindus". Ahoy! Hindu society has at last discovered a Hindu leader - with what sort of a mindset! Positioning themselves in the precincts of a church - St.Andrews Church,Egmore, in this case - this secular brigade chose to spit anti-Hindu venom, thus: 1. DMK's Karunanudhi, in particular, roared "we shall not permit a national legislation banning conversion" as it had been demanded by Kanchi Sankaracharya! (Late O.P. Tyagi who tabled in Lok Sabha a private member's bill demanding ban on coversions might smile wryly from heavens!) 2. The meeting religiously adopted a resolution demanding "a ban on the VHP, the RSS and the Sangh Parivar", in addition, of course, "the withdrawal of the ordinance"("We shall continue to fight" said Karunanidhi putting the managers of the Christian institutions right there in a still more awkward position!). Karunanidhi has more than one reason to be jittery. One: this year, "the Cauvery problem" failed to yield adequate dividends in terms of political mileage, what with the monsoons, albeit delayed, literally watering down emotions in both the riparian states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu. This left Karunanidhi with no issue to fight for. A state wide bandh called by the DMK's labour union and the left wing ones proved to be a flop just this week. So he promptly hitched his political fortunes to this blatantly communal anti-Hindu bandwagon. Two: the Jayalalitha government last fortnight resorted to playing 'the raid card' in the same fashion as the earlier DMK regime: it tried to show former Public Works minister of the DMK government Durai Murugan, in bad light by unearthing "unaccounted assets" totting up to Rs.4 crores in a series of raids by the state government's anti - corruption sleuths. Meanwhile, Hindu society expressed its displeasure at the state Opposition's betrayal in no uncertain terms: the week long demonstation of its solidarity with the Jayalalitha government bore it out: The Hindu organisations quickly entered the scene. Though the massive anti - conversion conference in Madurai in which over 22,000 people participated and listened to a wide spectrum of Hindu religious leaders including Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Maruthachala Adigalal of Perur Adeenam, Swami Kamalatmananda of Ramakrishna Math and the swamis of Mata Amirthanandamayi Ashram and Chinmaya Mission, Thiruvaduthurai Adeenam, Dharampura Adeenam, Sri Ramakrishna Thapovanam etc., who exhorted Hindu parents of school going children to boycott Christian institutions found to be indulging in proselytisation

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and organized Hindu schools. Dr. Praveen Togadia of VHP and Shri Rama Gopalan of Hindu Munnani and Sri Jayadev, Dakshina Kshetra Pracharak of RSS warned Hindus to beware of the Christian - Muslim gang up in Bharat to the detriment of Hindu interests, while Christians and Muslims were at each other's throat elsewhere. Hindu Munnani's thousand - strong procession marched along Anna Salai, the artery of Chennai, raising slogans hailing the ordinance. The series of demonstrations organised in turn by VHP and BJP, as well as the poster campaign of ABVP helped keep up the tempo. Sadhus and Matadhipatis did not lag behind. The proposed Harijan rally in support of the ordinance on sands of Chennai beach next Thursday (Oct. 31) is bound to correct the notion that conversion is justified because the evil of untouchability persists. Elite of the city irked by the World Bank's eerie move to directly fund "faith related NGOs" in countries like Bharat, are to meet under the Vigil banner early next month to sort it out. All the 234 MLAs and all 60 MPs of Tamilnadu were alerted through a 8 page document containing conversion records in the state as well as instances of Hindu population asserting and putting up Hindu educational institutions. Jayalalitha eyes on the Hindu vote bank, with Karunanidhi angling for the other, is the routine comment on this development. It is only half true. The former has already tasted victory in this by putting up as AIADMK candidate a Hindu in Vaniyambadi, always a Muslim - represented constituency, in the Assembly byelections a couple of months back and saw him get through. Karunanidhi cannot be so sure of his new friends having their own axes to grind. But better he dives, as he himself has recently announced, headlong in rooting out Hindutva "lock, stock and barrel" from Tamilnadu for which, as a BJP functionary put it, Karunanidhi is too small. A tall order indeed, even for the tallest of Tamilnadu political leaders! ------------------------------------------------------<http://www.hvk.org/articles/1002/225.html> ============================================================================

RELIGIOUS CONVERSIONS IN INDIA -- FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE
Fringe church groups are converting scores of Hindus to Christianity across South India, reports, George Iype In many villages across South India, religion is turning out to be a question of money. Flush with funds from their headquarters in the United States, a number of evangelical and Pentecoastal church groups are converting hundreds of Hindus, especially belonging to the low castes, to Christianity. Similarly, Muslim scholars are touring villages in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to lure locals to Islam. Hindu nationalists leaders claim that despite the hue and cry they have raised against conversion all these years, `forced conversions are taking place at a brisk pace in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. "Christianity has firm roots in these southern states, which may be why some church groups have seized forced conversion as their mission," says K. Radharkrishnan, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Last week VHP leaders from South India sent an urgent appeal to the federal government asking to prevent appeal to the federal government asking it to prevent Christian and Islamic missionaries from indulging in forced conversions. "These missionaries are spending dollars to convert people here. We want the government to arrest them for creating social and religious upheaval." Radhakrishnan said. Church and Muslim leaders concede that his charge is not entirely baseless. Consider the following: August 22, some 250 villagers - all of them poor Dalits - in Madurai underwent baptism by water and converted to Christianity. The ceremony was conducted by the Seventh-Day Adventists, a U.S. based

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Pentecostal church, which has missionaries working across India. Over the last six months, reports say, Seventh-Day pastors have converted as many as 200 Hindus to Christianity in the Madurai region. In July, the Covenant and High Land Trinity, an evangelical church group working in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district, converted 70 Hindu villagers to Christianity. Reports said that all the converts were paid money and given jobs for changing their religion. Last fortnight, two dozen Hindus in a poor mason's colony outside Pathanamthitta town in Kerala were converted to Christianity allegedly under the influence of a charismatic Christian prayer group called Master Ministry of Jesus. `I did not have any work and I could not feed my three children and wife. Now I go for Bible teaching and we are living as a happy family,' says P K. Krishnankutty, who has since changed his name to Joshua Davis. Intelligence reports sent to the A B Vajpayee government reveal that the Deendar Anjuman, an Islamic sect that follows an eclectic theology, has been converting poor Hindu villagers to Islam in the rural areas of Hubli and Gulbarga in Karnataka and Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. The Deendar Anjuman was outlawed two years ago after it masterminded a series of bomb blasts in churches across Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Church insiders admit that evangelist groups with plenty of foreign money have mushroomed all across South India with conversion as their main agenda. "They have exotic names like Exodus Church, New Life Evangelists, Covenant and High Land Trinity, Master Ministry of Jesus etc. They reject church rituals. They are very Westernized and fundamentalist," a senior Syro-Malabar Church official revealed. -------------------------------------------------------[Source: <http://www.hvk.org/articles/0902/147.html>] ============================================================================

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CONVERSION
AN ACT OF VIOLENCE
THUS THEY WROTE
1 CONVERSION IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE Aggressive religions have no God-given right to destroy ancient faiths and cultures

-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------(The aggressive religions) are zealous in their mission of preaching and conversion. ...From the day if Inquisition, every attempt recorded in history to stop their program of conversion only stocked their flame of zeal. As a result, many religions with their unique cultures (like Incas) have disappeared, leaving behind only mammoth relics like the ones in Greece and Mexico. (Instead of feeling guilt and remorse for this loss, they feel achievement and pride.)... Religious conversion by missionary activity remains an act of violence. ...It generated violence. …Religion and culture are not often separable. (Therefore, conversion destroys culture also.) … Religious conversion should stop -- the aggressive religions should realize that they are perpetrating violence when they convert... --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Religious conversion is a widely discussed topic in the Indian media these days. I think this issue needs to be thoroughly understood by all the people that count in every religion. The world's religions can be categorically said to be either aggressive or non-aggressive. Each religion has a certain promise in the form of an ultimate goal. Their faithful people try to live the prescribed life and reach the promised goal. Neither they nor their clergy are out to bring the people of other religions to their flock. Zorastrians follow their religious tradition without attempting to convert anybody to their religion. This is true with the followers of the Jewish tradition, Vedic religion (now known as Hinduism), Shintoism, Taoism and the many other religions of various tribes in the world. I call these religious traditions nonaggressive because they do not believe in aggressive conversion. Then there are religions like Christianity, whose theologies, containing a number of basic non-verifiable beliefs, advocate conversion. Evangelism and proselytization are sacred commitments of the entire cadre of the highly organized clergy. The clergy-inspired laity are not any less committed to conversion. They are zealous in their mission of preaching and conversion. In their zeal, the end more often than not justifies the means. From the days of the Inquisition, every attempt recorded in history to stop their program of conversion only stoked their flame of zeal. As a result, many religions with their unique cultures have disappeared, leaving behind only mammoth relics, like the ones in Greece and Mexico. The loss of such great living cultures of the world is the mark of success for the zealous of the aggressive religions. The truth is that where there should be a sense of guilt

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and remorse, there is a sense of achievement and pride. Many leaders of non-aggressive traditions think that the charity of the missionaries is designed to neutralize any protest from the native religious community. One cannot totally dismiss their thinking. Religious conversion by missionary activity remains an act of violence. It is an act of violence because it hurts deeply, not only the other members of the family of the converted, but the entire community that comes to know of it. One is connected to various persons in one's world. The religious person in every individual is the innermost, inasmuch as he or she is connected to a force beyond the empirical. The religious person is connected only to the force beyond he has now accepted. That is the reason why the hurt caused by religion can turn into violence. That is why a religious belief can motivate a missionary to be a martyr. When the hurt of the religious becomes acute, it explodes into violence. Conversion is violence. It generates violence. Aggressive religions and non-aggressive religions are not on the same plank. Conversion is, therefore, a rank, one-sided aggression. The genius of the non-aggressive traditions cannot change, and therefore, they cannot be asked to do the same thing as the aggressive religions do. Humanity cannot afford to lose any more of its existing living religious traditions and cultures. We want to enjoy the religious cultures of both Christianity and Islam as we also want to enjoy the cultures of Jews, Parsis, Taoists, Shintoists, Hindus and others. Humanity will not let a pyramid be razed to the ground by the Egyptian government to create a housing complex. Even though they are in Egypt, the pyramids are too ancient to be the property of that country. They are standing monuments of human genius--they belong to the whole of humanity. So, too, are all the monuments of the past lying all over the world. Religion and culture are not often separable. This is especially true with the Hindu religious tradition. The greeting word, namaste, is an expression of culture as well as religion. Even though a religious mark on the forehead is purely religious, it is looked upon as a part of Hindu culture. Rangoli [patterns drawn on the ground with rice flour] at the entrance of a Hindu house is not just cultural; it is also religious. Indian music and dance cannot separate themselves from the Hindu religious tradition. There is no classical dance, bharata natyam, without Siva Nataraja being there. The classical, lyrical compositions of Meera, Tyagaraja, Purandara, Dikshitar and many others are intimately connected to the Hindu religious traditions. Therefore, conversion implies destruction of this entire culture. A committed Christian will not wear a tilakam, much less have rangoli in front of the house. If there is no rangoli at the entrance to a Tamil Nadu house, we immediately know that it doesn't belong to a Hindu. A converted Christian woman ceases to wear Indian traditional clothes, like saris, etc. No Christian woman will wear a nose ring. It is amazing how easily cultures disappear by the program of conversion through various means, leaving only dead monuments to be preserved for posterity. The living religious traditions, intimately woven into the fabric of their respective cultures, have to be allowed to live and thrive. Religious conversion should stop--the aggressive religions should realize that they are perpetrating violence when they convert. We want them to live and let others live. -----------------------------------------------------Swami Dayananda, 69, a Sannyasin of the Adi Shankara and Veda Vyasa Tradition, Founder of Arsha Vidya Centers in US (<www. arshavidya.org>), India, Canada and Australia, has taught throughout the World for over 30 years. ------------------------------------------------------Source: <http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1999/11/1999-11-15.shtml>

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2 CONVERSION IS VIOLENCE Open Letter to His Holiness the Pope John Paul II

From SWAMI DAYANANDA SARASWATI, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India October 29, 1999
His Holiness The Pope John Paul II The Holy See The Vatican City State. E-mail: <pyclub@SPARC.isl.net> Your Holiness, On behalf of many Hindus whom I know personally, I welcome your visit to Bharat. This is a country with an ancient civilization and unique religious culture which accommodates many religious traditions that have come to this country throughout the centuries. Being the head of the Vatican State and also the Catholic Church with a great following all over the world, you enjoy a highly venerable position and can play a significant role in diffusing religious conflicts and preserving the world’s rich cultures. You have in your Apostolic Letter tertio millennio adveniente, 38 (10 November 1994) voiced your intention to convoke a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia. After seeing the report of the Pre-Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops Special Assembly for Asia appointed by you, I want to bring to your kind notice the concerns of many Hindus in this country about religious conversion. In the second Vatican council, the status accorded to the world religions was that of a means for preparing them for Christ. We all understand that the Catholic religion does not accommodate other religions, except in this context. But I am appealing to you here to accept that every person has the freedom to pursue his or her own religion. In the recent past, you mentioned that reason should be respected. On the basis of reason, no non-verifiable belief is going to fare any better than any other non-verifiable belief. Therefore, according to reason, there is no basis for conversion in matters of faith. Apart from reason, there is another important issue, which I request you to consider. Among the world's religious traditions there are those that convert and those that do not. The non-converting religious traditions, like the Hindu, Jewish, and Zoroastrian, give others the freedom to practice their religion whether they agree with the others' tenets or not. They do not wish to convert. I would characterize them as non-aggressive. Religions that are committed by their theologies to convert, on the other hand, are necessarily aggressive, since conversion implies a conscious intrusion into the religious life of a person, in fact, into the religious person. This is a very deep intrusion, as the religious person is the deepest, the most basic in any individual. When that person is disturbed, a hurt is sustained which is very deep. The religious person is violated. The depth of this hurt is attested to by the fact that when a religious sentiment is violated, it can produce a martyr. People connected to a converted person are deeply hurt. Even the converted person will suffer some hurt underneath. He must necessarily wonder if he has done the right

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thing, and further, he has to face an inner alienation from his community, a community to which he has belonged for generations, and thus, an alienation from his ancestors. I don't think that can ever be fully healed. Religious conversion destroys centuries-old communities and incites communal violence. It is violence, and it breeds violence. Thus, for any humane person, every religious sentiment has to be respected, whether it is a Muslim sentiment or a Christian sentiment or a Hindu sentiment. Further, in many religious traditions, including the Hindu tradition, religion is woven into the fabric of the culture. So, destruction of a religion amounts to the destruction of a religious culture. Today, for instance, there is no living Greek culture; there are only empty monuments. The Mayan, Roman, and many other rich cultures are all lost forever, and humanity is impoverished for it. Let us at least allow humanity to enjoy the riches of its remaining mosaic of cultures. Each one has some beauty, something to contribute to the enrichment of humanity. In any tradition, it is wrong to strike someone who is unarmed. In the Hindu tradition this is considered a heinous act, for which the punishment is severe. A Buddhist, a Hindu, a Jew, are all unarmed, in that they do not convert. You cannot ask them to change the genius of their traditions and begin to convert in order to combat conversion. Because it is the tradition of these religions and cultures not to convert, attempts to convert them is one-sided aggression. It is striking the unarmed. I respect the freedom of a Christian or a Muslim to practice his or her faith. I do not accept many of their beliefs, but I want them to have the freedom to follow their religion. You cannot ask me to respond to conversion by converting others to my religion because it is not part of my tradition. We don't believe in conversion, even though certain Hindu organizations have taken back some converted people. Thus, conversion is not merely violence against people, it is violence against people who are committed to non-violence. I am hurt by religious conversion and many others like me are hurt. Millions are hurt. There are many issues to be discussed regarding conversion, but I want to draw your attention to only the central issue here, which is this one-sided violence. Religious conversion is violence and it breeds violence. In converting, you are also converting the non-violent to violence. Any protest against religious conversion is always branded as persecution, because it is maintained that people are not allowed to practice their religion, that their religious freedom is curbed. The truth is entirely different. The other person also has the freedom to practice his or her religion without interference. That is his/her birthright. Religious freedom does not extent to having a planned program of conversion. Such a program is to be construed as aggression against the religious freedom of others. During the years of your papal office, you have brought about certain changes in the attitude and outlook of the Church. On behalf of the non-aggressive religions of the world, the Hindu, the Parsi, the Jewish and other native religions in different countries, I request you to put a freeze on conversion and create a condition in which all religious cultures can live and let live. ----------------------------------------------------Source: <http://www.hindunet.org/conversions/pope99/to_pope_from_swami_dayananada_sa.htm> <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/2104/conversion_violence.html>

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3 THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT: 'Thou shall not convert'

By Laura Kelly
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Well organized religious conversion can be a potential bomb to explode cultural values, disturb political affiliations and torpedo national loyalties, says the author. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------THE WEST Bengal Government has withdrawn orders on conversion. It has withdrawn an order on furnishing details on conversion following strong exception to it from the State Minorities Commission. Why this forced sterilization of religious statistics? The matter was taken up with the authorities after the Darjeeling district intelligence branch issued a circular asking for monthly reports on the number of persons converted to Christianity. Senior police officials had informed the commission that the step was taken at the instance of the State intelligence branch to keep track of religious configuration of the State populace (The Hindu, February 16). Why should the State Minorities Commission come in the way of the State police gathering intelligence reports? The commission was upset by the Darjeeling intelligence branch decision to collect the statistics. Was it because it was keen not to open up facts and figures to the prying eyes of the state? The facts are available from church literature. ``During the last 30 years the Catholic population increased by ninefolds to nine lakhs,'' brags an official report. The Laussane Covenant states ``we believe that we engaged in a constant spiritual warfare...'' Why should the official efforts to collect intelligence be stopped by the State Government, was it with an eye on the coming by elections in the State? Or something more fishy? Arms sales The western powers want social and political conflicts to continue unabated all over the world in order to justify their arms sales. Every nation that is having a population of 100 millions is considered a potential enemy, in order to sell arms, and treat every nation as a business partner, a curious dichotomy. The famous Huntington document, which delineates half a dozen cultural groups as the ultimate actors of the world's political stage, has placed religious conversion in a new perspective. Christianity was a state enterprise for all European countries. Well organised religious conversion can be a potential bomb to explode cultural values, disturb political affiliations and torpedo national loyalties. A few major religious conversions located strategically can work wonders. One Pakistan was carved out of India. One Jharkhand was added recently. The Niyogi Commission report refers to the role of Rev. Joel Lakra, the principal of Theological College, Ranchi, who was closely associated with the WCC pioneered Jharkhand movement for a separate adivasi State in Bihar. Though India has become independent the missions are suffering from colonial dyspepsia. Once it had confused the western arms superiority with the superiority of the Christian creed.

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A fraud on humanity Mahatma Gandhi called religious conversions a fraud on humanity. ``This proselytization will mean no peace in the world. Conversions are harmful to India. If I had the power and could legislate I should certainly stop all proselytizing.'' The Hindus have nothing against Jesus Christ. But they are definitely against Christianity as a cult put up by St. Paul, which believes in the St. Caprian's axiom, Extra ecclessiam nulla salus (outside the church no salvation). Sarva Dharma samabhava is a heathen idea, a doorway to hell. Evangelising the heathen is the holiest task of a believing Christian. J. C. Kumarappa who was a faithful Christian himself exposed the political ambition of the missionaries: ``Before these Christian missionaries landed in Africa, the Africans had their land with them, but not the Bible. Now they have their Bible with them, not their land.'' When C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer was the chief minister of Travancore, the temples of the State were thrown open to the harijans and the Archbishop of Canterbury resented the legislation on the ground that it gave a serious setback to the conversion of harijans into Christianity. The very literature produced by the International Missionary Council and World Council of Churches put in circulation through evangelical literature societies and proclamations made by Billy Graham and other evangelists that they must produce at least one thousand million converts, for this they have to work in Asia, especially India. ``In fact missionary activity is like ideological warfare. It is systematic, motivated and directed, that looks to establish a particular religion for all human beings, in which the diversity of human race, mind and needs is forgotten. The global missionary business is one of the largest businesses in the world. Not only Catholic church but also various Protestant organisations have set aside billions to convert non- Christians to Christianity. Organised conversion activity is like trained army invading a country from the outside. The missionary army goes to communities where often there is little resistance to it, or which may not be aware of its power or motives. It will take advantage of the communities that are tolerant and open-minded about religion and use that to promote a missionary agenda that destroys this tolerance'' - David Frawley. The Christian missions work through the World Council of Churches and International Council. These organisations work under the direction and control of the governments of the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan told an audience in Oxford that to the Indian Christian, Jesus was the whiteman's god marching with a sword in one hand and the Union Jack in the other. In 1956 Rajah Bhushanam Manickham, secretary of the World Council of Churches and International Missionary Council, landed in China and met the Prime Minister Chou En Lai. He asked two specific questions: my friends tell me that there is religious freedom for church in China, I wonder whether you could reassure me on this score and tell me whether such freedom is likely to continue in future. My second question is ``what about the future of religion itself in communist China?'' Chou En Lai's reply was crisp and categorical: ``There is freedom to serve to China right, but no freedom to do wrong or upset the Government of China... As for religious freedom, I must make it clear to you that we have sent away these foreign missionaries who were really at heart colonists and who did harm to China. They will not be allowed to come back... The doors are indeed closed once and for all in China to the imperialistic Christian missionaries.'' On January 31, 1994 Premier Li Peng of China enforced strict ban on conversion of Chinese citizens by foreigners through serious of regulations on the management of religious activities in China and places of religious activities.

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What about secular India which is an open choultry, where the missionary is given royal treatment of the minority status, whose vote banks are cherished assets for the politicians from West Bengal to Kerala, hence the withdrawal of the orders of the Darjeeling police to collect vital statistics on conversions. The Niyogi Committee report states ``the separatist tendency'' that has sgripped the mind of the aboriginal. The growth of Baptist churches in Nagaland page 175 boasts: The Ministers and members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, government officers and employees are active, witnessing Christians in their individual capacity... Last year some officers of high rank went on a preaching tour to various places in both Nagaland and Assam. The government officials (not in their official capacity) gave all possible cooperation... to make the annual conventions, and important church meetings a great success. All India Radio, Kohima station, broadcasts church services, Christian messages and Christian songs... the cooperation of government servants has a great bearing in the growth of church in Nagaland. This is a rare privilege in India.'' The growth of Baptist churches page 115 claims ``the government of Meghalaya is run by Christian officers. This is a rare privilege in India. The recent developments are a god given opportunity to the Garo Hills for the furtherance of his kingdom.'' It is not surprising that insurgency in Nagaland has not grown. The Indian Express January 25, 1995 says that a nexus has been established between the Pakistan's ISI and the illegal Muslim immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. In three out of the seven States, Christians constitute the majority - Mizoram 85 per cent, Nagaland 82 per cent, Meghalaya 55 per cent. Seventy per cent of the Christians in NE are Presbyterians or Baptists. Catholics account for one fourth of the Christian population, and 5.7 per cent of India. The Catholic population, less than 60,000 at the time of Independence in 1947, has increased to 7.2 lakhs in 1990. In Arunachal Pradesh 70,000 people embrace Christianity every year in spite of official resistance and absence of resident missionaries. Yet the quality of their life has yet to improve. The church is terribly vast organisation and with huge resources to save souls. ``It costs 145 billion dollars to operate global Christianity,'' records a book on evangelisation. The church commands four million full time workers, runs 13,000 libraries, publishes 22,000 periodicals and four billion tracts a year, operates 1,890 radio and TV stations. It has a quarter million foreign missionaries, over 400 institutions to train them''. These are figures of 1989. No state, especially a developing country like India can cope with such pressure where full time missionaries have increased from 420 in 1973 to 5,986 in 1998. Any one caring to visit the resource availability to Christian organisations can log on to http: // www.bethany.com/profile/c india.html to study conversion plans not only for Arunachal Pradesh but for all India. India is divided into 186 individual people groups. And a long description is followed by advice on how to convert each to Christianity. It is to be noted that that those holding high ranking positions within the Church councils and missionary organisations happen to be all war veterans. These veterans use technical war lingo of exporting revolution to countries. The developed countries are now making serious efforts to subvert and overthrow governments established by law in developing countries using churches as their tool. A famous Gandhian thinker J. C. Kumarappa, himself a good Christian, said the western nations have four arms - 1. The Army, 2. The Navy, 3. The Air Force, 4. The Church. The Laussane Covenant states “we believe that we engaged in a constant spiritual warfare.” The text continues in military terms: “god's army”, “battle”, “weapons”, etc. Panel recommendations The Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, appointed by the Madhya Pradesh Government consisting of six citizens including Mr. S. K. George, a Professor of Commerce, a devout Christian belonging to the oldest church in India, the Syrian Christian Church, and presided over by the retired Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court, Mr. M. B. Niyogi which visited 77 centres, contacted 11,360 people from

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700 villages, examined 375 written statements, visited hospitals, schools, churches, leper homes, hostels, etc. and after 2 years of arduous labour has made the following recommendations: (1) Those missionaries whose primary objective is proselytization should be asked to withdraw. The large influx of foreign missionaries is undesirable and should be checked. (2) The best course for the Indian churches was to establish a united independent Christian church in India being independent of foreign support. (3) The use of medical and other professional services as a means of conversion should be prohibited by law. (4) To implement the provision in the Constitution of India prohibiting the imparting of religious education to children without consent of parents and guardians. (5) Suitable control of conversions brought through illegal means should be imposed. If necessary through legislative measures. (6) Advisory boards at State, regional and district levels should be constituted of non-officials, minority communities like tribals and harijans being a majority on these boards. (7) Rules relating to registration of doctors and nurses employed in hospitals should be suitably amended to provide a condition against evangelistic activities during professional services. (8) Circulation of religious literature meant for propaganda without the approval of the State Government should be prohibited. (9) Institutions in receipt of grants-in-aid or recognition from government should be compulsorily inspected every quarter. (10) No non-official agency should be permitted to secure foreign assistance except through government channels. (11) Government should lay down a policy that providing social services like education, health, medicine, etc. to scheduled classes will be solely by the State Government, and adequate services should be provided as early as possible, non-official organizations being permitted to run only for members of their own faith. (12) No foreigner should be allowed to function in a scheduled or a specific area either independently or as a member of a religious institutions unless he has given a declaration in writing that he will not take part in politics. (13) Programmes of social and economic uplift by non-official or religious bodies should receive the prior approval of the State. It should be noted that even 100 per cent change of religion does not lead to change of economic prosperity as seen from the example of Philippines, the most converted Catholic country, which is also the poorest country in Asia, with the biggest economic divide. Conversions have to stop. In this context one would like to remind the Christian missionaries ``that thou shall not convert'' as the eleventh commandment. Theocentric and theocratic eclectics are as dangerous as nuclear warheads. The church's concept of ``my god is your god, but your god is no god,'' does not foster harmony and fraternity. This has to be changed into ``your god is my god and my god is your god and accepted by people of all religions.'' Secularism should not come to be understood that Hindus in India could be forced into inaction in the face of dire threats to their religion.

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The Supreme Court of India said in 1977: ``We find no justification for the view that if Article 22 grants a fundamental right to convert a person to one's own religion, it has to be appreciated that the freedom of religion enshrined in the Article is not guaranteed in respect of one religion only, but concerns all religions alike, and it can be properly enjoyed by a person, if he exercises his rights in a manner commensurate with the like freedom of persons following other religions. What is freedom for one is freedom for the other in equal measure, and can therefore be no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any person to one's own religion.'' On March 14, 2000 in a fully televised speech Pope John Paul II asked for forgiveness for the past errors of the Roman Catholic Church during a solemn mass in St. Peters Basilica: ``We ask for forgiveness for divisions between Christians, for the use of violence in the name of truth, and for the diffidence and hostility engaged against followers of other religions''. In the entire church history he was the only Pope who asked for forgiveness on 94 counts for all the wrongdoings of the church. But the activities of the church are continuing unabatedly and have not been stopped and that is the root of the problem. LAURA KELLY (Author of “Conversions in India a Geopolitical time bomb” to be published later this year.) ------------------------------------------------------[Source: <http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2001/03/13/stories/13130613.htm>] ============================================================================

4 PUTTING AN END TO CONVERSION ACTIVITY

By M. V. Kamath
On the night of January 22/23, Christian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two young sons were burnt to death in Manoharpur, a remote village in Orissa. On September 1, another Christian priest, Fr Arun Doss was killed at Jambani village, also in Orissa. In the past month, several incidents of burning of churches have been reported, almost all of them in tribal areas in Orissa and Gujarat. Some time ago, church authorities released a long list of atrocities perpetrated against Christians in different parts of India and at different times. The cumulative impression sought to be driven home is that minorities are no longer safe in India. This is an ominous development. Orissa's director-general of police Dilip Mahapatra has been quoted as saying that Fr Doss had received a "number of complaints and evidence" to the effect that the priest was involved in "illegal conversions" in violation of the Orissa Freedom of Religions Act, 1967. Under the Orissa law and a similar law passed in Madhya Pradesh, missionaries are clearly under an obligation to inform the authorities of their conversion efforts. Incidentally, these laws were upheld by a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rev Stanilaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh (AIR 1977 SC 908). The law makes it mandatory for the concerned religious priest to give a 15-day notice for the "ceremony of conversion" and intimate the time and place along with the names and addresses of those intended to be converted. Far from Prying Eyes Christian missionary efforts at conversion under the guise of social work do not take place in places, say, like the Brahmin-dominated ward of Mylapore in Chennai. They are conducted in poor, illiterate and innocent tribal areas and in remote jungles far from the prying eyes of authority. Now a reaction seems to have set in. Writing in The Statesman (March 12, 1999), Mr B P Saha made the point that "growing enlightenment has been provoking them (tribals) to dislike conversion and look askance at the foreign missionaries, the so-called benefactors".

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Attempts at conversion should be considered a mortal assault on local cultures and should be totally banned. Conversions are forbidden by law in China. Here we take a lenient view of conversion and Christian bodies have been taking advantage of the Hindu sense of tolerance. According to Mr Jon Stock, New Delhi correspondent of the British paper The Daily Telegraph, "put simply, the Indian subcontinent has become the principal target for a wide range of western Christian missions which are determined to spread the gospel to India's 'unreached' people before the year 2000". Writing in The Spectator, Mr Stock says: "There is little doubt that the current communal tension in India would not be serious if foreign-funded missionaries had been content with giving Indians the choice of Christianity and left it at that." According to Mr Stock, "hundreds of thousands of dollars are being channelled into India through wellorganised, America-based evangelical missions", the meticulously researched ethnographic data they are compiling on the region ensuring that funds are being directed "with military precision to the right area, even to specific pin codes in remote tribal districts". Mr Stock quoted a statement from a Colorado-based Group of World- wide Christian Missions calling itself AD 2000 and Beyond as saying: " 'Flashes of light' seen all around the North India-Hindu belt, particularly among the tribal groups, are encouraging us to believe that the Sum of Righteousness is indeed ready to rise upon these unreached peoples." Violence Justified AD 2000 and Beyond described Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest city as full of temples dedicated to Shiva "an idol whose symbol is a phallus", and as a city whom many (?) consider the "very seat of Satan". One Rev R V Paricha has been described (Observer, March 24, 1999) as having authored a plan, on behalf of 94 Christian organisations, to target Orissa for conversion efforts, on the grounds that the caste structure of Orissa lacks the polarisation of the high-and-low caste characteristics of South India. The Constitution clearly says (Article 25, Freedom of Conscience etc) that "all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion" but what is forgotten is that this right is "subject to public order, morality and health". If conversions or attempts at conversion lead to public disorder, the government has a duty sternly to deal with guilty missionaries. If the government does not step in on liberal pretenses, then violence can be predicted even justified by insulted citizens. It is time that Christian missionaries understand that India -- and Hinduism -- cannot be taken for granted. It is pertinent to record what Christian missionaries did in Goa during the Inquisition. All the Inquisition's activities were conducted in strict secrecy, replete with "impenetrable arcane terminology fiendishly discrepant logic and autonomous questioning?" Paul William Roberts in Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India (Riverhead Books, New York) says,"Children were flogged and slowly dismembered in front of their parents whose eyelids had been sliced off to make sure they missed nothing. Extremities were amputated carefully, so that a person could remain conscious even when all that remained was a torso and a head...Those subjected to diabolical tortures could also be counted in the thousands and the abominations continued until a brief respite in 1774...The evil resumed (four years later) continuing, almost incredibly, until June 16, 1812. At that point British pressure put an end to terror, the presence of British troops stationed in Goa enforcing it". Mere Apology The Church had a special way of dealing with converted Hindus who were suspected of not observing Christian rites with appropriate rigour and enthusiasm, or even of covertly practising their old faith. They were the revertidos, the alleged backsliders with their cut-out idols and furtive cremations. According to Roberts (p.89), "the culprits would be tracked down and burnt alive". The Church archives should be able to produce instances of all the ghastly atrocities that missionaries perpetrated in Goa in the name of Christ. These archives should be opened for study -- and publication in full. A mere apology is not enough. The Pope owes it to Goa, Hindus in general and India in the larger

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context to give a full account of what Christianity had perpetrated in our country. Above all, a total stop must be ordered of conversion activities. -----------------------------------[Source: <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/2104/kamath_challenge.html>] October 13, 1999 ============================================================================

5 MEETING THE THREAT OF CONVERSION IN INDIA
EFFORTS AIMED AT reducing the Hindu population through proselytization by Muslim and Christian agencies have remained, even after the British left, a source of grave threat to our national security and integrity. However, the growing awareness of this threat over the years, has put the Hindus on the alert. For the first time in history, huge Hindu conferences organized by VHP and allied Hindu bodies have been demanding that the Government impose a ban on conversions through illegal and immoral means. Public pressure also is mounting for the expulsion of foreign Christian missionaries and an immediate ban on the flow of foreign money for such proselytizing agencies working under various humanitarian garbs. It is noteworthy that some time ago, at the Consultative Committee meeting of the Central Home Ministry, representatives of all parties except the Muslim League demanded a legislation to stop the flow of foreign funds into the hands of private agencies. Islamic Mass Conversions Averted Many conversion-prone areas in the country have already started experiencing the impact of Hindu resistance to conversion. To give the most talked-about instance of recent times: the country was shocked with the news of Islamic mass conversion of about 800 Hindus in February 1981, in Meenakshipuram in Tamil Nadu. In the wake of Meenakshipuram euphoria, the Isha-ad-ul Islam Sabha of South India which had engineered the conversions there claimed that over a hundred thousand Harijans in Tamil Nadu were on their toes to walk into their parlour. The wave of conversions sweeping the southern parts of Tamil Nadu at that moment was indeed alarming. Hindu organisations like the Sangh, the Hindu Munnani, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Arya Samaj, the Hindu Samudaya Valarchi Manram, the Hindu Temple Protection Committee and other Hindu social and religious organisations immediately swung into action. They formed themselves into 'Hindu Ottrumai Maiyam' (Centre for Hindu Unity). Soon an RSS study team visited and surveyed all the affected villages in the four districts of Tamil Nadu; and on the basis of that report, the HOM decided to launch a widespread movement for stopping further conversions and to reclaim to the Hindu fold all those who had been converted. In the meanwhile, a shocking piece of news reached the Sangh workers at Madurai, that a large number of Harijan Hindus - a hundred thousand from all over Ramanathapuram district—were scheduled to assemble at Mudukalattur to take a decision on embracing Islam en masse. The Harijan leaders of Tirunelveli and Madurai districts were also invited to the meeting where a call to embrace Islam was intended to be given to the Harijan community in general. They had invited Swami Ramdas, a highly respected mathadhipati from Malaysia, to guide their deliberations. The Swami, hailing from the same Mudukalattur tehsil and the same community, was well versed in the Tamil lore and Hindu scriptural texts. He too was in a tormented mood over the predicament of Harijans. He was at a loss to know how best to guide his followers. The Sangh and VHP leaders, who had overnight hastened to his place, explained to him the various constructive measures initiated by the Hindu organisations and several prominent mathadhipatis to secure justice to the Harijans and accord them a status of equality and dignity in Hindu society. All this was highly gladdening and reassuring news to the Swamiji, who later on succeeded in considerably assuaging the inflamed tempers of the Harijan leaders. He convinced them of the sincere efforts being made by the workers of the Sangh and VHP and many mathadhipatis to accord honourable treatment to them.

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The Swamiji himself later on participated whole-heartedly in the Hindu Solidarity Conference at Ramanathapuram. Having personally experienced absolute equality of treatment with the other traditional Hindu mathadhipatis and senior Sangh and VHP workers at the conference, he agreed to the latter's request to postpone his return journey to Malaysia and join them in the tour of the villages. This was followed by Hindu Unity Conferences, attended by leaders and representatives of all castes and sects in large numbers. Equality and harmony became the one stirring note of all their exhortations. Religious and social leaders began visiting the neglected brethren. They enquired about their problems, and comforted them by assuring them of equality and dignity in social life. Most important of all, they refurbished their faith in Hindu Dharma. As a result of these efforts, the spectre of mass conversion was laid low in Tamil Nadu even though stray cases are still being reported from far-flung villages. But whenever such news leaks out, alert Hindu workers reach there promptly to stop further mischief. For example, in Sivakashi, there was to be a mass baptism. When the news reached the Swayamsevaks they rushed to the place and saw to it that not a single Hindu left the Hindu fold. A most encouraging feature was that the local Hindu population also stood by the Swayamsevaks as one man in this attempt to save their Hindu brethren. In Kerala too, the rising Hindu awareness is at work. Ponani, a coastal town in Kerala, is a notorious centre of Islamic conversion for the entire south, where the headquarters of Munavar Ul Islam Sabha is situated. Men, women and children are lured, kidnapped and brought there for conversion. With the spread of Shakhas, however, the Swayamsevaks and other Hindus have started apprehending them at the railway station or bus-stand and thwarting such attempts. Thwarting Christian Missionary Moves In the wake of quitting of the British, the foreign Christian missions had in fact felt that their game was up. They even began making preparations to leave Bharat, but soon the Government's 'secular' policy came as an unexpected boon. They were not only allowed to carry on their activities as before, but even new areas so far forbidden to them, like those of certain Hindu principalities were thrown open to them. With the result, Christian missionary efforts at proselytisation have now become far more widespread and insidious. In all, about 100,000 missionaries - 9,400 foreign and the rest local - are now engaged in divisive and subversive activities under the mask of various kinds of service projects. The vanavasi areas in the country can roughly be divided into three parts: the North-East, Chotanagpur and the rest. Out of these, the dangerous fall-out of missionary activities is particularly felt in the North-Eastern region where small states have been carved out under the pressure of separatist movements engineered by the foreign Christian missions. While some of them like Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya have already become virtually Christian States' insurgent movements have been taking on more aggressive forms all over the North-Eastern region with demands for newer states. Nailing the life of ‘Aminimism’ The sense of alienation from the national mainstream that the janajatis (the 'tribals') now feel is mainly due to the handiwork of the British. Those areas were declared as 'protected' and kept out of bounds for all others except the Christian missionaries. The geographical isolation of the janajatis residing in those deep jungles and valleys has added to their difficulties in facing the hostile religious and cultural onslaught of the missionaries. Further, the janajatis are themselves divided into 182 groups. They speak different dialects, live in different environments and face different problems. As such, among themselves also there is little communication. Unfortunately, even after Independence, the Government has been treading in the same footprints as those of the erstwhile British rulers. While the converts from janajati Hindus are designated in the census as Christians, the rest are enumerated as merely various 'tribal' entities as distinct from Hindus. Government its led by the assumption, insidiously set afloat by the foreign missionaries that since the janajatis worship trees, stones and serpents' they are 'animists' and cannot be called Hindus.

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Gandhiji had said, "We are strangers to this sort of classification — animists, aboriginals, etc. — but we have learnt it from the English rulers. These tribes have from time immemorial been absorbed in Hinduism. They are like the indigenous medicine of the soil and their roots lie deep there." Even Census Commissioners like Herbert Rislay (1901), Census Officers P.C. Talents in Bihar and Sedgwick in Bombay (1921) had stated that no line of demarcation could be drawn between 'Hinduism' and 'animism' and that separate mention of tribal religions should be done away with and tribals joined with the rest of the Hindus. Shri Guruji nailed the pernicious propaganda of 'tribal separatism' squarely on the head. He said, "The argument of 'animism' is something which only an ignoramus who does not know the a, b, c of Hinduism would advance. The word 'animus' means the principle of life that is immanent in all creation. Whatever be its form of expression, it is that Inherent Spirit that is worshipped. Do not the Hindus all over the country worship the tree? Tulasi, Bilva, Ashwattha are all sacred to the Hindu. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Shri Krishna, while naming the forms in which the indwelling spirit is more manifest than in others, has pointed to Ashwattha among the trees. He has also spoken of the serpent and various kinds of animals and birds, and so also of mountains and rivers. Shri Krishna closes the series of such manifestations saying: 'Every such element as is endowed with glory, brilliance or power, know that to be a manifestation of a spark of My Divine Effulgence.' "The worship of Nag, the Cobra, is prevalent throughout our country. In the South there are huge temples of Lord Subrahmanya, the name given to Nag there. Then, should we term all these devotees and worshippers as 'animists' and declare them as non-Hindus?" - Shri Guruji challenged. How the Hindu Appeal Works There is an interesting instance of how this Hindu appeal basic to all janajatis works wonders. When Rani Ma Gaidinliu, the celebrated Naga freedom fighter and leader of Zeliangrong Heraka Movement, was invited to the World Hindu Meet at Prayag organised by the VHP in January 1979, she was taken aback. How could she, an 'animist' and not a 'Hindu', be invited to an avowedly Hindu conference? — She questioned and pleaded her inability. However, when the Parishad workers explained to the Rani the Hindu viewpoint, it appealed to her immensely. She participated in the conference along with her devoted disciples. In her short but emotion-filled speech, she reminded the audience of the immense sacrifices made by the past freedom fighters including those from the Nagaland. At the end she appealed, "But the foreign missionaries are nibbling away at our freedom. Preachers of Hindu Dharma should reach those parts in large numbers to defeat their designs." The Rani was so greatly impressed that she has now become a source of inspiration to the Hindu resurgence movement in that region. The remarks of an old Khasi lady from Meghalaya who attended the conference were significant: "When we live here (i.e., in Shillong) we feel ourselves overwhelmed by the growing number of Christians all around us. We are also falsely told that the rest of the country is already totally converted to Christianity. But, at the Vishwa Hindu Sammelan at Allahabad, I realised that Hindu society is like a great ocean. If a wave of that ocean comes rising over Meghalaya, the speck of Christianity that is here would be submerged in no time." Here is another instance of how the chaste Hindu atmosphere strikes a sympathetic chord in the hearts of such sections. N. C. Jaliang, an MLA from Nagaland, had come as a guest to the training camp organised by the VKA in 1981 at New Delhi. In his inaugural address, he had mooted the idea of forming a nonChristian Front to face the Christian manoeuvrings in his State. However, at the close of the camp, he said that he was feeling himself very much a Hindu, instead of being a mere 'non-Christian.' The Impact of Cultural Renaissance: Among Nagas The wave of cultural renaissance generated by the efforts of Sangh Swayamsevaks has given birth to the Bharatiya Janajati Samskritik Manch (Indian Tribal Cultural Forum) in the NorthEastern region. It seeks to tackle both types of isolation of the janajati brethren - that from the mainstream of Bharatiya ways of life and that among their own several different entities. Even while trying to pull down these artificial barriers, it encourages, in the true spirit of 'unity in diversity' of the Bharatiya culture, the formation of separate

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tribal bodies for each tribe to deal with its own particular problems, maintain and refurbish its own religious practices and its traditional ways of life and popularise its literature. The last mentioned programme has been found to be effective in loosening the octopus-like grip of Christian missionary propaganda. At present, the Bible, translated into the local tribal languages (using the Roman script), is taught to the janajatis in all their educational institutions. As for the Government institutions, only secular education is imparted. As a result, the janajatis have been denied the opportunity to instruct their children in the fundamentals of their ancestral faith. The void created in their hearts by the absence of such faith makes them fall a prey to Christian proselytizers. As a result of the Forum's endeavours, regeneration of their pristine spiritual and cultural values among the various janajati groups has been quickened. Under Rani Ma Gaidinliu's guidance, the three main branches among the Nagas—the Jemi, the Rengmai and the Zeliang - are coming together in a common movement. They call it 'Heraka', i.e., 'the Pure Faith'. The Heraka Conference, organised in January 1981 by the Heraka Council with the support of the ITC Forum, proved historic. The three-day conference was attended by more than 2000 Naga delegates drawn from 81 villages of the three States of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. Some of the delegates had to walk for six days to reach Kokairam, the Naga village in North Cachar Hills district of Assam, where the conference was held, and had to walk back again all the way. This was also the first occasion when the Khasi religious leaders mingled with their Naga brethren and recognised their common spiritual bonds. The Heraka Council has, at its annual conference held on 1-2 February 1988, put its official seal of sanction on the growing Hindu awareness among the Heraka followers by resolving that "Heraka, which in reality is Hindu, is the only religious faith amonz the Nagas to preserve Naga traditional beliefs, customs and culture. Heraka Association will work as a part of Hindu organisation in all matters." The Saraswati Shishu Mandir at Haflong, having mainly Naga boys, has won the hearts of the village elders. A few years ago, when the Government officers and the Governor himself tried to persuade them to part with a particular piece of land for a fruit-juice factory, they rejected the offer and instead allotted the eight bighas of that plot free to the school. They said, "A school for our children run by a Hindu mission, with our own mother tongue as the medium of instruction, is of more value to us than some economic benefits." The village Tayning has a school and a medical centre run by the VE`A with the assistance of Heraka Naga leaders. For a population of 3,000, the village has two huge residential schools, one of the Roman Catholics and the other of the Baptists. The Ashram school has a substantial number of Christian children of the Baptist Church. The Vice-Chairman of the Town Committee, a Baptist Christian, explaining why he preferred to send his wards to the Hindu school instead of to his own Church school, said, "I know that in the Ashram school, prayer to Saraswati is offered. Samskrit and Hindi are taught. However, while in the Baptist and the Catholic schools more stress is laid on Bible-teaching, more attention is paid here to the studies and behaviour of the children." In fact, the elders find nothing amiss in the assimilation o the traditional Hindu modes by their children in the Ashram school. Once a teacher of the school on his morning stroll heard 'Ya kundendu-tushara-haradhavald....' emanating from a hut. He peeped in and found a boy of his school sitting in padmasana with palms joined in the namaskar posture reciting the Saraswati stotra that he had learnt as part of the school prayer; the picture before which he was sitting was of Jesus. Needless to say, he was a boy from a Christian Naga family. The vanavasi parents in Nagaland and North-Eastern States have started gladly sending their wards to hostels run by the VKA in provinces like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Among the Khasis The other important group is of the Khasis, fifty per cent of whom have already been converted to Christianity. The converts have cornered all the education, positions of profit and political privileges,

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pushing the Khenzi Khasis into second-grade citizenship. Of late, however, the spirit of self-awareness and pride has been gathering force among the latter. Seng Khasi, formed towards the close of last century, has preserved the fire of their faith in their own tradition and culture. Jeebon Roy, a great Indian patriot, was the first moving spirit behind it. A great educationist, scholar and thinker, he wrote, translated and published books on subjects like the Khasi faith, Ramayana, Bhagavad-Gita and the lives of Buddha and Shri Chaitanya. The present leader of Seng Khasi and of the ITC Forum is Hipshon Roy who is able to measure up to the challenges that the conversion has posed. He is bringing home to his Khasi brethren how Christianisation has meant Westernisation resulting in the deculturalisation of their time-honoured ways of life. H. Onderson Maurie is another dynamic leader of Seng Khasi and of the ITC Forum. He is the Headmaster of Nongkrem High School in Meghalaya. A thinker and philosopher of great depth, he is also a powerful orator. He warns his people that it would be suicidal for them to build on others' foundation. Maurie affirms that because of their present awakening, conversion of Khasis to Christianity has almost totally stopped and the return process - "home-coming" - has, for the first time, started. "Now we are on the offensive, they are on the defensive", he says quietly. Here is an instance to show which way the wind is blowing. In Meghalaya, the dominating Christian influence, which had been taken for granted so far, is now resented and even challenged. Commanding a big majority in the Assembly and administration, the Government was all along celebrating Christmas Day as a State function without let or hindrance. Government offices and the Assembly House used to be illuminated as if Meghalaya was a Christian State. in 1979, the Khasis bestirred themselves. They submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister objecting to this practice as being against the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution; copies were sent to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister. The effect was visible the very next year. . The Meghalaya Government had to issue a circular to all government offices that no govemment building shall in future be used for religious celebration. In contrast to the denationalising impact of Christianity, how do our various janajati brethren view the Hindu impact? Onderson Maurie, contrasting the Christian with the Hindu impact, says: "In the case of the former, the physical and the cultural conquests are closely and inseparably inter-related, whereas in the case of the Hindu, the janajati cultural specialities have not suffered in the least for ages. True, while some of the janajati groups have no hesitation in calling themselves Hindus, a few others like the Khasis are still reluctant to do so. But even the latter frankly declare that among the Bharatiya faiths, the 'Hindu' faith is like their 'elder sister'." Seng Khasi, in one of its issues, wrote: "During the British regime every one of the European writers had sought to project the worst type of distorted and vulgar picture of the NorthEastern region. They never uttered a single word about the tolerant, generous attitude of the Hindus. The attitude of the Hindu Dharma towards our Khasi faith has been more than motherly." The last sentence indeed highlights the degree of emotional integration achieved by the ITC Forum and a measure of its wholesome influence. The Emerging Healthy Trends Due to the incessant efforts of the Forum, healthy trends are seen among many other janajatis also. In Arunachal Pradesh, it is Tum Pak Ete who has taken the initiative in its campaign. He had resigned a lucrative government job even before he joined the ITC Forum and dedicated himself to bringing out the excellence hidden in the religious literature of his Adi janajati. Tne coming up of the Adi Research Centre is the fruit of his devoted labours. A section of the Karbi janajatis has begun to receive new light on their ancestral Vaishnav faith through Lakbimon Sangh. A section of the Bodos in the plains have started celebrating their traditional 'Batho Pooja' (Panchamukhi Shiva Pooja) in increasing numbers and with mounting enthusiasm, while the other section, who call themselves 'Brahm', are taking to Yajna.

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Another important area which VKA workers have opened up for highlighting the common Bharatiya identity of the janajatis is in respect of their ancient folklore, folk songs and folk tales. The Karbis consider themselves as the descendants of Vali and Sugriva and the Tiwas are proud of being the descendants of Sita. The Mishmis of Arunachal Pradesh trace their ancestry to Rukmini and through her to Shri Krishna. In 1988, a seminar was organised by the Guwahati University on 'Rama-katha among the Janajatis of North-East', wherein a paper on the Rama-katha prevalent among Mizos was read by the Principal of Aizwal College, a Christian Mizo. The Rama-katha is replete with episodes of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, etc., and the killing of Ravana. A mantra in Mizo says, "Oh, rice, you have been created by Rama and Lakshmana to propound the Truth. So tell us what is Truth (this, three times)." The VKA workers who are collecting such material propose to urge the concerned educational authorities to include them in the school curriculum so as to strengthen the feeling of oneness of those people with the rest of the country. A significant fact with regard to the language of janajati brethren is most encouraging. A majority of the illiterate people among the janajatis understand Hindi, however elementary, and not English. At present, English is being pushed down their throats by the governmental agencies and the missionaries. However, as days pass, it is Hindi which promises to become the natural link language between the various groups. Once Hindi comes in, Devanagari script too is bound to become popular for their dialects, replacing the Roman script. The Bodos have accepted Devanagari for their script and very recently the Dimaches and the Jemi Nagas have also adopted the same as their script. While the Karbis have been using Assamiya script, the Tripuris make use of Bengali alphabets. Perversions of Christianisation Exposed The Poorvanchal Hindu Conference at Guwahati in February 1982 turned a new page in the history of the North-Eastern region. On that occasion, Hindus from the plains rubbed shoulders with representatives of over 20 janajati groups. It gave a tremendous boost to the process of national integration going on silently in the region. Such repeated experiences are making the various janajati groups realise that their identity is safe within the Hindu fold. By contrast, they are also realising that conversion to Christianity sucks them into a nameless, faceless replica of Western habits and tastes; their age-old values are not only obliterated but despised. It is this shocking realisation that is making even the converted janajatis sit up and think. Some years ago, a Naga cultural delegation, which included the Chief Minister's wife, visited America. The members were all Christians. In a congregation they were asked to sing Naga music. When the wife of the Chief Minister sang a song they remarked, "This is our Western Pop music. We want to hear a traditional Naga song." She felt ashamed while replying that as she was a Christian, she had given up all indigenous customs and did not know any Naga music. The Americans felt shocked and asked: "What if you have changed your faith? Have you ceased to be Nagas?" After her return to Bharat, the lady told the then Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh at a meeting that though they had become Christians the people outside expect them to adhere to their ancestral cultural traditions and heritage. In Manipur, secessionist elements, under the name of Maitheyi and People's Liberation Army, have been trying to inject into the minds of Manipuris the belief that they are Maitheyis and not Hindus and that Manipur was never a part of Bharat. They claim that their religion, their customs, language and script are all totally different, and as such fall outside the ambit of Bharatiya life. This separatist wind began blowing fiercely from the early sixties. Holy texts like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad-Gita were decried and dishonoured; they were, at places, even set on fire. At one place, one of the ministers too had joined in burning the copies. However, the VHP decided to extinguish this fire of disruption. Towards this end, a huge Hindu Conference was organised at Imphal in 1981. Attended by all sections of Hindus in thousands, it gave a powerful thrust to the movement of Hindu consolidation and helped significantly in subduing the antiHindu, anti-national

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appeal of separatist Maitheyism. The annual Maha-Shivaratri festival, which had been suspended because of the attacks of the secessionists, was revived from the next year onwards with renewed fervour and enthusiasm. There are elements even among the insurgents who feel the glow of the work of Hindu missionaries. The Saraswati Shishu Mandirs run by the VKA in Manipur are very popular and have a total strength of 1,700 at present (1988). Once, when a couple of insurgents happened to meet some persons running the school, they frankly told them: "We are not opposed to your project. In fact, we want our children to grow up in such a healthy and noble environment." Then there is the amazing experience of a worker of VKA of Silchar, in Cachar District, who had gone on a visit to Mizoram to survey the conditions of janajatis there. In a village, known for its insurgent activities, the local Christian janajatis surrounded him and began closely questioning him about his background, the nature of the Kalyan Ashram work, his intention in coming over there, etc. The worker found himself in a soup. When one of the janajatis invited him to his house, his apprehensions became even more grave. Being in no position to say 'no', he quietly followed him. Inside the house, the janajati brought him a drink. The worker now felt that it might well be his 'last drink'! However, his fears soon gave way to intense relief and happiness when the host took out Rs. 500 and offered him the same, saying: "Please take this for your noble work. But I feel you have come to us too late. You should have reached here 30 years earlier." Of course, the Kalyan Ashram worker knew that it was never too late! Integrating the Young Minds The ABVP too has been active in this direction. It has pitched upon the impressionable and unpolluted student community to pioneer the movement for their emotional integration with the rest of the country. In 1966, the ABVP workers met Vishnu Sahai, Governor of Assam, and submitted its scheme of Inter-State Living for Students. In May that year, eighty students from Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh came and stayed with different families in Bombay. It was in Bombay that these students from the North-East realised that they belonged to sixteen different janajati groups, speaking sixteen different dialects. It was also there that for the first time they met one another. The present Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Gegang Apang, was among them. When a batch of Arunachal students again came to Bombay, Apang, who was then the P.W.D. Minister, was deputed by the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, P. K. Thungon. Apang visited the host family in Bombay where he had stayed for one month in 1966. The family members were overjoyed to receive him as fan honoured guest' from Arunachal Pradesh. However, Apang was quick to correct them saying that he was not a guest but very much a son of the family, only coming from Arunachal Pradesh. Since then this unique project, 'Students Experience in Inter-State Living' (SEIL) has become an annual feature of the ABVP. In December 1980, 30 students from different parts of the North-Eastern region were invited to visit other parts of Bharat. At every place, top men in the educational and literary fields, lecturers and students, joined in extending a hearty welcome to them. Mole than the felicitation in universities, they were deeply touched by the deep affection showered on them by the mothers who welcomed them to their homes like their own kith and kin and served them with various types of delicacies. What astonished the Khasi students, specially, was the extraordinary interest displayed by one and all in trying to know the salient features of the Khasi faith and tradition. However, they felt piqued for not being able to satisfy their curiosity. This made them more introspective and spurred them to know themselves better and deeper. On their return they are turning more and more to Seng Khasi, a socio-religious institution, for that purpose. Consequently the Seng Khasi programmes, which were till now popular only among the elderly Khasis, have now been eliciting enthusiastic response from young men and women also. Every year, SEIL attracts new students, involving different states and programmes- all of them directed towards reawakening and reinforcing the common cultural identity of North-Eastern States with the rest of Bharat. So far, ten such batches have visited different parts of the country. This has been reciprocated by the visit of four batches from the other parts to the North-East and one to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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The SEIL slogan 'Alag bhasha alag vesh phir bhi apna ek desh' (Language and dress may be different, but our nation is one) seems to have made a deep impression on the participants. In 1987, the Khasi Students Union went about terrorising and driving out the non-janajati Hindus from Meghalaya. Two Khasi girls, who had previously participated in the SEIL programme, stood up and faced the student mob in defence of a non-janajati doctor serving in a Seng Khasi hospital. The same spirit was witnessed in all its youthful exuberance when students of other parts went to the North-Eastern States in 1987. The local janajati boys and girls in Haflong, Shillong, Itanagar and other places welcomed them at railway stations and bus-stands with 'Bharat Mata ki jai'. Hearing the spirited chants by the janajati student mass, Hipshon Roy exclaimed: "I had never thought that I would hear the slogan Bharat Mata ki jai in Khasiland. In Madhya Pradesh The second large tract of vanavasis in Chotanagpur region had also been cordoned off by the British declaring it as halfexcluded areas. Conversions among the vanavasis had been going on there, both at the individual level and en masse. The missionaries pitched upon the village chiefs; if they were converted, the entire village would follow. Every physical want and disability - hunger, disease, poverty, unemployment or destitution - used to be taken advantage of by the missionaries. Giving Christian names to the Hindu children admitted into their schools was another fraud indulged in by them. The oppression to which the vanavasis of Jashpur in Madhya Pradesh were subjected by the Christian missionaries can be imagined by the fact that when one of them went riding on a horse, he would lash with his whip anyone who did not salute him - a practice which continued even after Independence. However, now, wherever the VKA units have started functioning, conversion on mass scale has been totally stopped and cases of individual conversions are also perceptibly reduced. An incident may be recalled here. Observance of Indal Pooja, a traditional festival in Madhya Pradesh, had been abandoned by the vanavasis because of the enormous expenditure it involved. The Christian missionaries had stepped in and begun arranging the Pooja in their Church, with a view to bringing the innocent Hindu vanavasis under their net. The VKA stopped the mischief by organising the Pooja in its pristine form and with minimum expense. As in some other areas, in Jashpur also, distribution of several articles given by the Government for the poor and needy is being done through the missionary agencies. Recently a petition signed by 25,000 vanavasis has been submitted to the District Collector, protesting against this discriminatory practice. In Rajasthan, Tibede Bada, a village in Bansvada district, had become a Christian stronghold. Even the Hindu vanavasis had started greeting each other with 'Jai Isu'. But a sannyasin who reached there on behalf of VKA soon changed all that. Now, the practice there is 'Jai Sita Ram'. Ramlila, during Dasara, has also become very popular there. In the wake of expulsion of a Belgian missionary recently, a loud hue and cry was raised by the Christian missionaries all over the country. In Bihar, the Christian missions closed down their schools as a protest and threatened that they would remain closed till the expulsion order was revoked. The Sangh and VKA workers launched a powerful propaganda offensive and organised massive protest demonstrations by the school students, exposing the anti-national nature of the Christian blackmail and urging the Government to take over the Christian schools. The Government too issued a notice to the Christian missions warning of dire consequences in case the schools were not opened immediately. Thereupon the missions beat a retreat and reopened the schools. The leadership of the movement for a separate Jharkhand State in Chotanagpur area had, for long, gone entirely into the hands of the Christian missions. The Hindu vanavasis were also willynilly drawn into their camp. But with the spread of VKA activities, a gradual change is now taking place. The Hindu vanavasis are moving away from the missionary hold and have started projecting their own leadership. There is now hope that the movement would not turn violent or anti-national.

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Commissions' Inquiry into Missionary Activities The first to take steps at the governmental level in uncovering the ulterior motive behind Christian missionary activities was the Govemment of Madhya Pradesh. In mid-fifties, it appointed a commission headed by Justice Bhavani Shankar Niyogi for that purpose. A senior Sangh pracharak working in Madhya Pradesh took upon himself the task of mobilising the necessary witnesses. It was mainly because of his efforts that about 5,000 vanavasis and others could adduce evidence in person before the Commission. That help proved crucial for the Commission in preparing a well-documented and authentic report which laid bare the underlying motive of the Christian missionary activities. For the first time, because of that historic report, the nefarious activities indulged in by the Christian missionaries came to light. The Madhya Pradesh Government followed up the Commission's Report with a legislation prohibiting illegal and forcible conversions in the State. But, in the absence of corresponding steps by the Centre, the missionary activities have gone on unhampered all over the country. More recently, the Justice Venugopal Commission, which inquired into the riots at Mandaikadu in Kanyakumari district in March 1982, has made the pertinent observation that conversion activities carried on there by the Christian Church was the main reason for the clashes between Christians and the Hindus. The Commission has advised the Tamil Nadu Government to ban conversions and to urge the Central Government to do likewise in the whole country. But so far nothing has come out of it. The Call for Home-Coming The Hindu awakening has not stopped merely at alerting and organising remedial programmes. It has gone one step further. It is strenuously seeking to rectify the suicidal outlook vis-a-vis reconversion entrenched in the Hindu psyche. The orthodox opinion had so far held that there is no religious sanction for taking the converted back into the Hindu fold. Thus, for centuries, the one-way traffic from the Hindu to other religions had gone on unchecked. The present Damocles' sword of Kashmir problem hanging over our head can be traced directly to this self-destructive outlook. About a hundred years ago in Kashmir, the pandits had stopped the King from taking back the entire Muslim community who had volunteered to return to Hinduism. Doubtless, some of our far-seeing religious and social reformers in the past and in recent times did make heroic efforts to break this self-imposed shackle. The movement was given a powerful thrust by eminent leaders of Hindu renaissance like Swami Dayananda, Swami Shraddhananda and Veer Savarkar in this century itself which certainly had its own impact. However, the Hindu mind in general took time to realise its crucial importance. And even those who had come back could not be fully assimilated into the Hindu fold. Shri Guruji decided to pick up the thread where it had been left by the previous stalwarts. He began pursuing the movement especially in the crucial direction of suitably changing the psychology of our people. On the occasion of his 51st birthday celebration, he gave a call that set the ball rolling. He termed those who had been converted out of fear of death, coercion or various temptations of power, position, etc., as victims of 'religious slavery'. He declared it was the mad zeal of the invaders for increasing their numbers to make way for political domination that lay at the root of such conversions. Efforts to persuade our religious and social leaders to give a positive lead to our people in this direction have started yielding results. The mammoth Hindu World conference organised by VHP at Prayag in 1966 created history. Heads of maths, dharmacharyas and leading sadhus representing all shades of Hindu religious and philosophical thought unanimously resolved to revoke the centuries-old religious ban on reconversion. At the end of the resolution, thunderous applause greeted Shri Pejawar Mathadheesh of Udupi, Karnataka, when he uttered the new mantra - "Na Hinduh patito bhavet". The mantra succinctly stated that a Hindu is never fallen, thereby rectifying the misconception held so long that the converted person was 'a fallen soul' who could not be taken back. The new mantra decreed that the mere fact of his change of faith cannot take away his

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basic Hindu identity. This declaration was nothing short of a new smriti - a fresh interpretation of the ancient shastras in tune with the demands of modern times and in the interest of social consolidation. The various swamijis have been following up this declaration by presiding over the paravartan ceremonies and blessing the home-comers. The word paravartan, popularised by the VHP, correctly portrays the nature of the home-coming process. Paravartan emphasises the attitude of looking upon the converted as our own brothers and sisters whom we have to welcome home with all love. Re-animating the Age-old Faith It is common knowledge that conversions to non-Hindu faiths have all along been carried out by illegal and immoral means. In the past, under the Muslim rule, every possible tactics of coercion was employed. The frauds played by the Christian missionaries in later years are also too well known. Gandhiji used to call the Christian converts as 'rice-Christians'. Especially in the case of those converted en masse, their new-found faith has been found to be only skin-deep and their ancient Hindu religious moorings, on the other hand, still firm in their hearts. As such it has been found that the most effective way to remind the poor and unlettered converts of their Hindu roots and infuse courage in them to return to their mother faith, is to stir up their latent religious memories. The Jagannath Rath Yatra which traversed extensively in the vanavasi villages of Phulbani, Ganjam, Koraput, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts became a potent factor in rousing the latent devotion and collective will of the vanavasis - the Hindus and Christians alike. The massive dimensions of the Yatra can be gauged from the fact that between March 1986 and May 1988 it covered about a thousand places, each centre attracting 3 to 4 thousand people, thus amounting to a total of 3 to 4 million participants. Expenses for the programmes were met by the local people which totalled up to Rs. 3 to 4 million. Inaugural functions at five places during the same period were attended by 6.5 Iakh vanavasis. The dharmic awakening so generated is now being put on an enduring organisational footing by the VHP and VKA through Kirtan Mandalis, Satsangs and Yuvak Kendras. So far, 1,600 such units, managed by 500 committees, have come up. The Prakalpa Samanvaya Samiti of Orissa is the guiding and coordinating fulcrum for all these activities of several religious and service-oriented organisations. Besides running a regular school for 120 students at Chakapad and 3 student hostels, 20 weekly balwadis and 300 night schools have started functioning. Medicine distribution centres including three mobile vans cater to nearly 20,000 patients a month. All this could not have left the Christian vanavasis unaffected. During the same period about 15,000 of them have returned to the Hindu fold. In Madhya Pradesh, too, hundreds of Christian vanavasis join the yajnas, yagas and congregational worship of Indra carried out by VKA. This has resulted in more than 2,000 of them returning to Hinduism. While in Maharashtra, about 4,000 have responded to the call of their ancestral faith, in Bihar over 13,000 have come back. In the South too, in Andhra there have been paravartan programmes resulting in the homecoming Of 17, 112 Harijans who had been converted to Islam and Christianity. All these developments, it must be noted, are of recent years. The Rajasthan phenomenon is truly remarkable. They were all Chauhan Rajputs sucked up into the Islamic fold after the fall of Prithviraj Chauhan. However, the ancient Hindu blood in them was all the while alive. They continued to celebrate Dasserah and Diwali together with Id and Moharram. Their children used to bear both Hindu and Muslim names. When the Muslim moulvis, in their zeal to purge all the un-Islamic features, pressurised them to give up Hindu names and observing Hindu festivals, it set them thinking. They felt that if they had to give up certain undesirable things, they had better abandon Islam itself which after all had been thrust upon them some centuries ago. Muslim residents of one such village approached the head priest of Shri Pushkar Tirtha and asked him whether they could come back to the Hindu fold. The head-priest, who was the Sanghachalak of that place, readily gave his assent. This move, however, inflamed the moulvis who sent some hooligans to threaten the

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villagers with dire consequences if they dared to leave the Islamic fold. Their attempt was, however, foiled by the Swayamsevaks who boosted the resolve of the villagers by arranging an impressive bicycle march in that village. Then, on the auspicious occasion of Maha-Shivaratri, all the Muslims of that village observed a fast and held night-long bhajan of Lord Shiva. On the next day, after some preliminary religious ceremonies conducted by the priest, they were received back into the Hindu Dharma. When the Chauhan Rajput Mahasabha and the VHP came forward to assure the home-comers of equal and honourable treatment in the Hindu society, the home-coming trend received a further fillip. As days passed, the annual Prithviraj Chauhan Jayanti became a mass event in which the Rajput Muslims started participating in thousands. All this helped setting off a chain reaction resulting in village after village opting for home-coming. The process became further strengthened when workers from among those who came back volunteered to work for bringing the rest of their brethren also to their ancestral fold. The number of those who have embraced the religion of their forefathers has now swelled to 40,000. The Undying Innate Memories As in Rajasthan, in several other provinces also there are certain groups of Muslims who are even now adhering to their past Hindu religious customs and traditions. Swayamsevaks of a village in Jammu were discussing with other villagers plans for putting up a temple for Mahadeva. When they decided to have the Ishwara Linga of a particular size, the local Muslims who were also there remarked: "What kind of Hindus you are! You are thinking of such a small size for Mahadeva, while we worship a far bigger one." The Swayamsevaks were amazed and asked them which was the Linga they were referring to. The Muslims replied, "Why, don't you know that our trip to Mecca every year is meant for that purpose? The Kaba there is the Ishwara Linga and nothing else.'' The urge to come back to their ancestral faith is quite perceptible among such sections of Muslims all over the country. They have also nostalgic memories of their past Hindu associations. It so happened that the discussion a prominent Sangh worker in Lucknow was having with a moulvi, at one stage, warmed up. The talk had centred round the separatist attitude of Muslims and their alienation from national life. During the heat of argument, when the worker bluntly told the moulvi that some decades or centuries ago even his forefathers were Hindus, the moulvi stopped arguing and suddenly fell silent. He then asked the worker whether he would pay a visit to his house-. The worker agreed and reached the moulvi's residence which was on the first floor of the mosque. The moulvi bolted the door from inside and went in, leaving the worker wondering what the moulvi was up to. Soon, the moulvi came out with a document containing his 'family tree.' Pointing to a name at the top, he said that he was a Hindu who was the first to be converted to Islam. He added, "We have been preserving this document with utmost care and hoping for the day when the Hindu society will throw open its doors and take back all its children who had gone out for whatever reasons." And the climax came when, finally, he asked, "Well, are you now ready to welcome us?" In Jammu, an equally revealing experience awaited the Sangh workers. The elderly Muslims showed them a fourcenturies-old Tamrapatra (copper scroll) issued by their forefathers to their future progeny, saying, "We have been converted to Islam under circumstances beyond our control. When, at some future date, there will again be a Hindu rule, we command you to return to the Hindu fold." The ancient cultural moorings of the janajatis of the NorthEast are too strong for even Christian converts to snap them. And this is proving a powerful factor in reclaiming them to their ancestral religious fold. During 1986 and 1988, two thousand Khasi converts have responded to this call, signed the papers accordingly (a copy of which is sent to the Church alsb) and returned to the faith of their forbears. Overcoming Hurdles in Home-Coming Among certain janajati communities, the taking-back process is not a simple and easy-going one. Quite a few ticklish problems need to be sorted out before social sanction is secured for reconversion. Many of the janajatis - like the Dimachas of the North Cachar Hills - are such staunch Hindus that the Christian missionaries could not make any dent into their religious faith for over a hundred years. It was only four or five years ago that, for the first time, 10-12 Dimacha young men could be lured into

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Christianity. Two of them belonged to highly respected families. There was severe reaction among the Dimachas leading to the excommunication of those youths from their fraternity. However, VHP, sensing the danger inherent in such a step, persuaded a few among the converted to return to the Hindu fold. But reconversion to their fraternity had been forbidden. Yet another impediment arose. Two of the new converts had married Christian Mhar (Mizo) girls. Among the Dimachas inter-janajati marriages are also a taboo. The problem became more complicated because of the consideration of gotra of the females after reconversion, since, among the Dimachas, males and females have different gotras. However, after longdrawn discussions held among the Panchas of Dimachas and the VHP, it was decided that the male youths after reconversion by VHP be taken back as Dimachas and the Christian Mhar girl also be included amongst them and the Dimacha female gotra be given to them. Thus, for the first time, the Dimachas have given the lead for ending the one-way traffic in religious conversion and opened up the avenue for their social consolidation. Here is one more instance indicating the implicit trust and confidence the VHP workers have come to enjoy even among such isolated groups regarding problems arising out of their traditional customs and beliefs. An Assamese Hindu family of Rangiya in Assam was faced with excommunication from their caste because one of their sons had married a Muslim girl. The boy's brother approached the VHP workers for help, who in turn tried to convince the community leaders how such excommunication would harm the interests of the community itself. The leaders deliberated for ten days but were, however, still divided over the issue - one section favouring and the other opposing the re-entry of that family. The objectors, however, relented when they were reminded that their own honoured saints in the past had re-admitted such persons. But they were anxious to know whether the Satradhikar would be prepared to bless the new couple. The Satradhikar, on his part, agreed to give sharanam to them if the VHP carried out the paravartan; which process, of course, was willingly gone through to the rejoicing of all. ------------------------------------------------------------------[Source: <http://www.hindubooks.org/Vision/ch3.html>] ===========================================================================

6 PROSELYTIZATION IN INDIA: AN INDIAN CHRISTIAN'S PERSPECTIVE

-- C. Alex Alexander
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The author is a naturalized US citizen and a physician executive who recently retired after 35 years of combined service to both the US Department of Veterans Affairs as Chief of Staff, Hospital Director and Regional Chief Medical Officer and the US Army Medical Corps (Colonel). --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Since colonial times to the present, the impetus for Christian proselytizing work in India has largely emanated from Western Christian Church groups and missions. The latter's continuing obsession for promoting religious conversions under the aegis of India's Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom has triggered a raging debate among religious and political leaders of that country. Many Hindus of the Indian Diaspora have also been drawn into it. Over seventy years ago, Mahatma Gandhi stated that: “proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian work is unhealthy, to say the least. It is most resented by people here.[1]” The resentment that Gandhi alluded to has increased in India over the years, mostly due to the persistence of religious conversions engineered by Christian evangelists who derive their financial support from foreign sources. Fundamentalist Muslims too have entered the fray in recent years with substantive financial contributions from Muslim countries interested in furthering the spread of Islam in India. Some Hindu groups have resorted to reverse conversions. All these trends are destructive to India's time-tested culture of religious tolerance.

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The muteness of liberal Indian Christians, both in India and overseas, is indeed surprising. The aim of this essay is to rectify that omission at least in part. I hope that liberal Indians of all faiths will debate this issue with their fundamentalist counterparts in a similar vein to prevent inter-religious conflicts in that subcontinent. At the end of this essay, I shall present for your consideration a plan for pre-empting the religious militancy embedded in the fundamentalist varieties of both Christianity and Islam. Though I have been living in the United States (US) for over forty years, I have maintained my moorings in the Indian culture through periodic visits to that country and close interactions with my Indian friends here regardless of their religious affiliations. The gift that I cherish most from my Indian origin and parental influence is one of unbridled religious tolerance. That Indic tradition of allowing people of diverse faiths to seek their own spiritual centering is now under attack in India at the hands of fundamentalists of all religions. The divisive and supercilious natures of their arguments have given me the impetus to write this article. I am not a religious scholar. But, I do value and cherish the teachings of Jesus as conveyed to me through my early religious influences in my childhood. Therefore, I am able to empathize with the angst of an adherent of any religion when he or she is confronted by the caricature of one's personal faith as portrayed by a fundamentalist of another religion. Like all my non-Christian friends, I too am annoyed when a wellmeaning Christian fundamentalist knocks on my door and asks me whether I am “born-again” and whether I would like to be saved! I can internalize the frustration of a non-Christian subjected to such an intrusive interrogation. I am well aware that fundamentalist Christians may condemn my views expressed in this article. If they do, I am certain that I will be able to weather their damnation because of my roots in an ancient Christian tradition whose commitment to the tenets of Jesus is no less than theirs. My faith will allow me to forgive their condemnation. I hope that their beliefs will likewise permit them to forgive my interpretations of Jesus' teachings if they find them to be at variance with theirs. My religious tradition has always placed more emphasis on the spiritual dimension of Jesus' teachings than in the establishment of Bible's historicity. My reading of the history of early Christianity leads me to believe that the Western churches' obsession for converting others to Christianity is based more on their historical tradition of using proselytization as an instrument of statecraft for the extension of their political and mercantile influences, than in furthering the spiritual welfare of their flocks. Early Christianity The ancient traditions of Christian churches evolved from their native eastern Semitic belief systems. But, most of the currently existing dogmas of Christianity as advanced by the Western churches were molded by the impact of Greco-Roman traditions. To this day, the ancient (often referred to as oriental orthodox) churches of Syria, India (in Kerala), Ethiopia, Egypt, and Armenia have successfully shielded themselves from the dogmas of Western churches. But, that was not easy in India after the arrival of the European colonizers there. In 1498 CE, the Portuguese tried and failed in a hostile takeover of the ancient Indian Orthodox Church through intimidation [2]. Again, starting from 186 CE, the Indian Orthodox Church was subjected to the machinations of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) of the United Kingdom with the connivance of the British Residents who were assigned to the Kingdom of Travencore to serve as Agents of the British Crown[2a]. Such meddling in the internal affairs of the ancient church resulted in the formation of a proselytizing group called the CMS, which is now part of the Church of South India (CSI). Subsequently in 1889 CE, another split in the original Indian Orthodox Church occurred to create a “reformed” group, with an explicit recognition that evangelism is essential for the growth of Christianity. That reformed orthodox group is known as the Mar Thoma Church. Interestingly, that Church's conversion activities have remained modest and are mostly undertaken outside of Kerala.

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The original Indian Orthodox Church too has been buffeted over the centuries by internal feuds. But, they have all been unrelated to theological issues. In 1912 CE, this ancient and original orthodox church splintered to form two separate churches, one known as the Malankara Indian Orthodox Church totally autocephalous with its own spiritual head in Kottayam, Kerala and another called the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church subject to Patriarchal oversight from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch in Damascus, Syria[2c]. That division appears to have been based more on issues of autonomy and nationalism than on canonical differences. The Indian Supreme Court was recently drawn into yet another court fight between these two groups to settle issues concerning property rights of their respective churches. The theological beliefs of the original Indian orthodox churches along with their Egyptian, Armenian, Syrian and Ethiopian counterparts as well as the Greek and Russian orthodox churches (known as the Eastern Orthodox) seem to have survived in tact over a span of over 1600 years. They did not develop the same degree of fixation about proselytization as their Western counterparts did. Unlike the Western churches, the oriental orthodox churches did not raise armies or promote crusades as the Bishop of Rome (Pope's title in early Christianity) did in order to spread Christianity. The oriental orthodox churches seek God realization through the mental disciplines of contemplation and prayer in lieu of dependence on Christian eschatology. From the earliest of times, they exercised moderation in the practice of Jesus' commandment to spread the “good news or Evangeline”. They fulfill their obligation to “propagate” their faiths through natural processes such as births, marriages and the inclusion of those who seek conversion brought about by real changes in their religious convictions. That has remained so for nearly two millennia. Even in today's post-Communist Russia with its newly established religious freedom, the Russian Orthodox Church does not look upon kindly at proselytization undertaken by any religious sect. In Greece, its Constitution also prohibits proselytization. Whenever it is flouted by a religious sect, the Greek Orthodox Church seeks governmental intervention to suppress it[3]. I am not holding up either Greece or Russia as a model of democracy. Greece is a theocratic state since Greek Orthodox Christianity is its state religion. It restricts the office of its Presidency to citizens of that faith. But, I am merely citing Greece and Russia as examples of two Western nations that do not tolerate proselytization even when they are undertaken by Christian denominations. The fundamentalist Christians both in India and abroad have been too quick to condemn as draconian the recent anti-conversion legislations enacted by a few Indian states. Proselytization was not a distinctive hallmark of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches of early Christianity. Jesus himself appears to have condemned proselytization when he said, “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more than the child of hell than yourselves.[4]” I often think of those verses whenever I hear of mass conversions of Dalits and tribals in India. They often seem to become outcasts twice! It is unfortunate that caste prejudice still persists not only among many Hindus but also among many Christians and Muslims as well. Frequently, it comes out of the closet when matrimonial alliances are considered, even when the two families involved in such discussions are of the same faith. Conversion to Christianity does not seem to eradicate caste prejudice in India any more than it eliminates racial discrimination in the US. Despite Jesus' call for brotherly love, isn't Sunday the most segregated day in America? If not, how does one explain the need for English-speaking African-Americans and Hispanics of Christian faith to maintain separate places of worship? Many fundamentalist Christian groups in the US still maintain racial separation and frown upon inter-racial dating. Western Christianity Christian fundamentalists believe that the prophecies in the Book of Revelation (New Testament) were revealed by the resurrected Jesus to his disciple John when the latter was on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. The religious broadcast media in the United States is a good source for seeing and hearing the vehemence with which the Christian fundamentalists assert that every word in the Bible is true and infallible. A contemporary example of such misguided beliefs is discernible in their views about the military conflicts in Iraq and Palestine. They claim that the establishment of Israel and the war in Iraq are

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both vindications of the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. During recent months, five verses from that book are frequently cited by biblical literalists as examples of the Bible's infallibility. Those verses predict the second coming of Jesus after “the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river of Euphrates and the water thereof dried up (so) that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.[4a]” The fact that the verses refer to the “kings of the east” crossing the Euphrates is explained away by fundamentalists as mere allegorical reference to Bush, Blair and Aznar. A few of their troop formations did in fact cross the river from the east! Some even point to the uncanny accuracy of the reference to “kings” because of the behavior of Bush, Blair and Aznar. The latter three leaders of democracies did disregard the wishes of their “subjects” when they decided to wage war! So far, so good! But, how does one interpret without concern a subsequent prophecy in the same book which predicts one thousand years of world misery after the way for the kings are prepared and the river gets dried up?[5] The biblical literalists have an answer for that too. It is just another allegorical measurement of God's time. It may mean a thousand hours, days, weeks or months! Bumiller, reporting on President Bush's stance on Iraq stated that he “sees the world as a biblical struggle of good versus evil[6].” The fundamentalists of all religions seem to believe in the infallibility of their prophets and strive for a historic fulfillment of their prophecies regardless of whether they inflict untold miseries on themselves or their unwitting neighbors. The late Robert K. Merton, one of America's foremost sociologists eloquently stated that: “a self fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true. The specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error, for the prophet will cite the actual course of events as evidence that he was right from the very beginning. [7]” Christian fundamentalists holding on to their blind beliefs in the infallibility of every word in the Bible are not affected by facts such as: (i)there are many versions of the Bible, (ii)Jesus spoke Aramaic and not Latin, Greek or English in which most Western Bibles are written, (iii)many oriental orthodox denominations have their own Bibles which are derived from the ancient Aramaic or Syriac translations of the Greek texts, (iv)the Book of Revelation was absent from many early Greek texts of the New Testament, (v)St. Paul's writings on Christianity are not universally accepted by all Christians, (vi)the Gospels were selectively gathered, (vii)many early versions of the new and old testaments were hand copied with likely human errors of both omissions and commissions, (viii)many original works of Jesus' associates (Thomas in particular) were discarded by some Christian sects during the first five or six centuries following the death of Jesus, (xi)many such discarded books are still used by other Christian sects, and (x)the first King James version of the English Bible was printed only in 1611 and has been revised seven times so far[8]. Christianity, as practiced by the West, has become insensitive to the emotional violence inflicted on the poorest of the poor when inducements such as free food, medical care, money, and employment are used as baits to engineer religious conversions. It is even worse when intimidations are used to facilitate conversions, as some Islamic nations do. While Christianity and Islam, as practiced by a large majority of their followers, do subscribe to peace, tolerance and non-violence, the daily occurrence of death and destruction based on religious differences in our present-day world highlight the distortions that are perpetrated by militant adherents of these religions. In Saudi Arabia, non-Islamic visitors and guest workers cannot even bring their books of worship or congregate in public places to conduct community worship services. Like their Christian counterparts, Islamic fundamentalists also want to actualize the prophecies in the Koran. Such obsessions to make religious texts serve as passports to heaven are mercifully absent in the non-Abrahamic faiths. My Christian Faith Being a liberal Christian and raised in a non-fundamentalist tradition, I am able to perceive little or no contradiction between the tenets of Jesus and many of the seminal concepts of Hinduism and Buddhism. The priceless affirmation in the Hindu scripture which says “ekam sat viprah bahudi vadanti” (one truth, but discerned differently by the wise) is somewhat similar to one of Jesus' sayings, “in my Father's house, there are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare one for you.[4b]” Another of Jesus' sayings which affirms that: “I and my Father are one” [4c] is similar to the Hindu Mahavakya,

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“Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman). The “born again” attribute necessary for a Christian's salvation as required by Jesus is no different from the concept of “dwija” or twice-born in Brahman (often misconstrued as Brahmin)[4d]. There are also several references in the New Testament indicating that Jesus and his disciples believed in both karma and reincarnation[4e]. It appears that the belief in reincarnation has persisted over the years, as evidenced by the continuing belief of Christian fundamentalists in the second coming of Jesus. The Acts of Thomas, which were excluded from the New Testament, contain concepts prevalent in the advaita of Hinduism[9]. Even the sacrificial nature of Jesus' assumption of the sins of his followers through his own crucifixion and death is similar to the willingness of adept Hindu Gurus to assume the karmic baggage of their followers. I also find that many of the parables Jesus used in his teachings are strikingly similar to Buddha's teachings imparted 500 years before Jesus was born [10]. Like the majority of human beings, I too inherited my religion through the faith of my parents. Their Christian roots in India's Kerala State are very ancient. My family lived very amicably with other religious minorities in a predominantly Hindu environment. I cannot recall even a single instance where I or any of my non-Hindu friends were subjected to any kind of religious discrimination. The Christian faith that I acquired through my parents has been so liberating that I have had no problem in accepting the plurality of worship pursued by others. I was brought up to believe that the practice of one's faith should be a personal affair and of no concern to others. Jesus himself prescribed it thus: “when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. [4f]” One of the early explanations regarding the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit) that I heard was in the form of characterizing the Father as the eternal truth, the Son as an expression of that truth in human form, and the Holy Spirit as the transformation of the latter as agape or unconditional love. Therefore, I have no difficulty in equating the state of bliss posited in Sat-Chit-Ananda with the transcendent bliss invoked through the Holy Spirit. In my mind they are conceptually well correlated: sat is the eternal truth, chit is the consciousness of that truth, and ananda is the bliss experienced through unattached love. A Call to Indian Christians In my opinion, most Christians born and raised in India's diverse milieu are innately liberal and pluralistic in their outlook. Therefore, they should now raise their voices against the divisive activities of the evangelical Christians, especially those that are bankrolled by the Western churches. Failure to do so is likely to do harm both to the religious freedom of India's minorities and the territorial integrity of that nation. The peripatetic foreign missionaries certainly have no stake in preserving the territorial integrity of India. But, Indians of all religions do. Besides, separatist movements in Northeast India have been suspected of deriving support from foreign missionary groups. Given the sordid history of Western Christianity, eternal vigilance is indeed prudent. A page from the recent history of East Timor may be appropriate for Indians to review in order to understand the negative potential of offshore proselytization! The indigenous tribes in that island were first converted to Christianity by Dutch and Portuguese missionaries. Then they were helped by the Western nations to secede from Indonesia. India may run similar risks if it continues to allow foreign missionaries to have unfettered access to its tribal populations. If India is to maintain its hard-won nationhood and regain its past level of religious tolerance, all Indians of goodwill must do everything possible now to stifle the voices of religious fundamentalists. Muslim and Christian clerics must learn to tone down their assertions of monotheistic superiority as well as refrain from denigrating religions that do not subscribe to their views of salvation. They must come to terms with the fact that the Hindu perception of God in myriad forms is just as sacred and inviolate to them as the monotheistic concept is to the followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Christian evangelists and the literal Islamists must also realize that they cannot continue to maintain their exclusive monopolies for marketing the road maps to heaven. Likewise, Hindu organizations should

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not allow their legitimate concerns about insensitive and duplicitous missionary groups to degenerate into generalized bashing of minorities through acts such as indulging in mass distribution of tridents or creating a climate of suspicion against all minorities. Pluralistic Indians of all religious faiths have an urgent need now to close their ranks and drown out the rhetoric of religious fanatics if they truly want to allow India to emerge as an economic and political power. Otherwise, India will remain a weak and soft State much to the glee of the Western nations.

Liberal Christians Liberal theologians of Christianity seem to have no difficulty in conceding that the ultimate truth can be sought through other equally valid religious traditions. If Christianity is to flourish and thrive anywhere in the new millennium, it needs to heed the calls of its liberal leaders and theologians like Thomas Jefferson, John B. Cobb Jr., James Luther Adams, Paul Tillich, John Shelby Spong et al. If it merely wants to use the faith as a wedge to divide and enslave people as in the past, then it should continue to march to the drumbeats of Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts and Billy Graham. In 1984, the then Episcopal Bishop of Newark (NJ), John Shelby Spong visited India and wrote the following: “What I learned about Hinduism enhanced my appreciation for this ancient religious tradition. I saw a beauty in it that was enviable, and I found many points where Christians and Hindus are seeking to deal with the same human needs in remarkably similar ways.” He admired the absence of the “spirit of missionary imperialism” in Hinduism and questioned whether or not the “Christian claims to possess infallibility or ultimate truth are not signs of a brittle pettiness that cannot endure.” His writings credited such insights to the dialogue he had with three Hindu scholars at a very old Christian seminary in Kottayam, in India's Kerala State[11]. While Christian fundamentalists take great pride in establishing the historicity of the Bible, they condemn all scholarly attempts of liberal Christians to study Jesus as a historical figure. They consider all such inquiries to be part of the “devil's” preoccupation to either misquote or deny Jesus' teachings. The fundamentalists of Christianity lack the insight to accept the limitations of the human mind to comprehend God. They are quick to condemn all plural definitions of God and ascribe such differences to the ignorance of the “heathens”. Without any hesitation Christian fundamentalists will concede that Jesus advocated forgiveness of one's enemies and commanded that an offender be forgiven not “seven times but seventy times seven”[4g]. But, that will not deter them from claiming that their wars are always just because they wage them only to destroy the wicked and the evil! And, God will always call upon them to decide who is evil and who is wicked! The notion that wars are inconsistent to the beliefs inherent in both the Old Testament's call for the beating of swords into plowshares[4h] and Jesus' own admonition to his followers not to resist evil has never been of concern to Christian rulers[4i]. Liberal Christians do recognize that during the last 1500 years, the European nations have indeed hijacked and corrupted an eastern mystic's (Jesus) efforts to replace the then-prevailing Judaic concept of a vengeful God with one of compassion and infinite love. From the early European crusades to the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Bosnia, Kosovo, and now Iraq, the Judeo-Christian Western nations have not shied away from using violence to resolve political and ethnic conflicts despite Jesus' commandments to abjure violence and promote peace. The victorious nations always justify death and destructions as unavoidable “collaterals” which are inseparable from their Christian obligation to fight evil, promote freedom, or preserve human dignity! The last millennium's history is replete with such callous and cynical behavior of Western nations. From the middle of the mid 10th Century, the Western nations seem to have expended great efforts in converting Jesus, a Semite into an Anglo-Saxon. They just could not tolerate letting him remain an AfroAsiatic, which he was. Astute visitors to any large museum that houses a collection of medieval icons and church paintings can easily discern for themselves the slow conversion of the images of Jesus, Joseph and Mary from their original Afro-Asiatic appearances to those of Europeans. The Western nations not only

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expropriated the Middle Eastern persona of Jesus and his tenets to fit their Western traditions but they also confiscated the intellectual properties of ancient cultures without giving the latter any credit for their accomplishments. Such expropriations of intellectual property from traditional cultures continue to occur even today. It is ironic that the Western nations who now demand universal adherence to the sanctity of patents and copyrights are the very ones who committed such plunders in the past. It is no secret that all colonial powers used Christianity as a useful weapon in their arsenal to expand their imperial domains. As Bishop Desmond Tutu often says, “When the missionaries came, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'let us pray'. We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.[12]” Independent India And Christianity Since India's independence, Hindu nationalists have been complaining about the ulterior motives of many foreign missionaries working in India. In recent years, particularly since the late 1980s, such complaints have become more vigorous, mostly as a result of the brazen calls of many Western evangelists and the Pope to Christianize Asia. While visiting India in 1999, the Pope openly proclaimed his wish to "witness a great harvest of faith” there through the Christianization of the whole country. It is well outlined in the Pope's promulgation, “Ecclesia in Asia” which was released during his visit. Predictably, a group of Hindu religious leaders were outraged. Not only did they ask the Pope to retract his proclamation, but also sought an apology from him for the notorious Goan Inquisition of 1560 CE which was carried out under the dictates of one of his predecessors. While the Pope had no hesitation at publicly praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem or apologizing for the past persecution of Jews, he was not willing to throw any such sop to the Hindu religious leaders. Only recently I became aware of the fact that since 1974, the International Congress on World Evangelization (ICWE) has been quietly developing a grand design to evangelize the rest of the nonChristian world which is known among Christian fundamentalist circles as the “10/40 window” or the Joshua Project. It targets for conversion all those living in countries within the 10th and 40th parallels, truncated longitudinally in the west by the western borders of Africa and in the east along the eastern fringes of Japan. I would like to urge interested readers of this article to visit that organization's website to fully comprehend the potential impact of such a worldwide conversion campaign[13]. The ICWE is supported by the powerful churches of the West. They have enrolled native agents from all countries within the “10/40 window” to implement the Joshua Project. For India, the ICWE has developed a plan which targets for conversion, 150 communities of Hindu, Muslim and Parsee faiths. The Kashmir region is part of that project. On the same website, there is also a revisionist narrative of the history of Indian Christianity authored by Rev. Richard Howell. It is a classic example of the distortions that take place when vested interests reconstruct historical events. For example, though Rev. Howell concedes that Christianity in India is ancient and “two millennia old”, he is silent on the historically verifiable presence of the ancient Indian Orthodox Church as well as the tolerance shown by the then Hindu rulers (Cheraman Perumals) on the southwest coast of India to a new faith in their midst. He fails to grasp that religious peace prevailed there only because of the non-proselytizing nature of the early followers of Christianity.[13] When conversions to Christianity took place in pre-colonial India, they occurred more as a result of a true change in religious convictions than through an exchange of material benefits. There is also no mention in Rev. Howell's writings about the intimidation used by Portuguese rulers in the late 16th Century against the oriental orthodox churches in Kerala to make them submit to the Pope's authority. Through the use of the Portuguese armada in the Arabian Sea, their padres frequently harassed many orthodox priests traveling in dhows to and from Syria and Persia to India's southwestern ports at Cochin and Cranganore. There is a well-documented report of the kidnapping of an Orthodox Bishop by the Portuguese while the former was headed to India in an Arab dhow[2b]. The Bishop was never seen again! In 1930 CE, the Pope succeeded in enticing several Indian Orthodox Christian priests to switch sides through an offer of immediate elevation to the status of Bishops in the Roman Catholic order.

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The British residents in India's former princely states as well as the Provincial Governors of British India actively assisted Christian missionaries from UK and other Western nations to continue with their quest to Christianize India. They did that without coming into conflict with their Roman Catholic counterparts who had been on that path since the early sixteenth century. Thus, for nearly four hundred years, the entire Indian subcontinent became available to Western nations for Christianization. Even after India's Independence, the presence and influence of foreign missionaries in India have remained significant, mostly because of the tolerance of the large majority of Hindus who believe in pluralism. In contrast, the activities of all Christian missionaries in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been vastly curtailed due to the intolerance of Islam to the spread of other faiths. Proselytizing Christians I am not at all surprised at the emerging rise of Hindu nationalism in India, given the historical experience of the Hindus whose faith had been assaulted first by Muslim invaders and subsequently by European colonizers. Since the citizens of India can now think for themselves, they can demand that they be shielded from intrusive evangelical activities through the use of democratic means. The Indian electorate has become sophisticated enough to distinguish between acts of selfless service and questionable acts of charity concocted by Christian missionaries involved in conversion activities. Such deceptive behaviors would have been an anathema to Jesus himself because we know that he insisted on not letting even one's left hand know what the right hand does as charity[4j]. I am also quite perplexed at the silence of liberal Indian Christians when they are confronted by the strident rhetoric of Indian evangelicals like Mr. John Dayal and Archbishop Alan de Lastic of New Delhi. So far, the latter seem to revel more in sowing seeds of discord between Christians and Hindus than in promoting religious amity between Hindus and other religious minorities. In my opinion, Mr. Dayal showed poor judgment when he appeared before the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington DC in September 2000 when the Prime Minister of India (Mr. Vajpayee) was here on an official visit. Mr. Dayal should have thought of the possibility that the timing of that invitation extended to him by USCIRF was not an accident. It is quite likely that it was part of the US State Department's plan to place the visiting Prime Minister on his defensive and thereby weaken India's efforts to convey to the American public the ravages resulting from cross-border terrorism aided and abetted by Pakistan. Parenthetically, I would like to express my dismay here at the absence of representation for Hindus on USCIRF. After all, Christian, Jewish, Bahai and Muslim faiths are represented by Americans on the Commission. But nearly a billion Hindus and another billion Buddhists on this planet have no representation on the Commission despite its claim of being a watchdog for “international religious freedom”. Therefore, I believe that fairness demands that both Hindu and Buddhist Americans get representation on the Commission. The term of most of the Commissioners now on the USCIRF is due to expire in May 2003. While testifying before the USCIRF, Mr. Dayal vigorously argued against according recognition to Vishwa Hindu Parishad as an accredited UN Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)[14]. His objection remained unaffected despite the fact that many religious organizations representing Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths are currently accredited to the UN as NGOs. Mr. Dayal demanded that the Indian Constitution continue to honor its commitment to citizens to freely “profess, practice and propagate” their faiths. But, he fails to comprehend the distinction between freedom to propagate a religion and the right to coercively convert people to another faith. It has become clear to me that religious conversions using material enticements are coercive and therefore ought to be forbidden by law. For years, I used to think that the complaints of many Hindus about the use of economic inducements as a means of conversion to Christianity may be exaggerations until I personally came across incidents such as a Catholic school's offer to defray the marriage expenses of Hindu girls if they agree to wed Christian boys. Anti-conversion laws may be the only civil means available for Indian states to deter such nefarious conversion activities.

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Mr. Dayal's website also contains articles alleging insensitivity on the part of some Hindu nationalists who “mock and blaspheme virgin birth, resurrection etc.[14]” If it is found to be true, it should be condemned just as vehemently as one should in the case of similar allegations made by Hindu organizations against Christian missionaries who ridicule Hindu beliefs. Mr. Dayal also complains about blanket discrimination by Hindus against all minorities. He implies that discrimination and religious intolerance are the contributing factors to the reduction of the Christian population of India from 2.9% in 1947 to 2.3% in recent years[14]. But, he neglects to consider the probable impact of family planning measures used by the non-Catholic Christians as a more likely contributor for the small decline in population growth. He is silent on the dramatic declines of Hindus both in Pakistan (25% in 1947 to current 1%) and in Bangladesh (35% in 1971 to current 7%) as well as the rise in India's Muslim population from 8% in 1947 to its present level of 13%[15] [16]. In view of such demographic changes in that subcontinent, Mr. Dayal's claim of discrimination of religious minorities in India is not credible. It is disappointing that Mr. Dayal's website does not contain even a single word of Christian concern for the plight of nearly 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus who were displaced from their homes to the refugee camps of New Delhi[14]. Mr. Dayal equates the Hindutva concept of “one nation, one people, one culture” with the “Nazi-fascism of Europe”. Is not India's entire people one nation, one people and one culture? Isn't culture a derivative of multiple factors such as language, climate, diet, habits, music, literature, arts and other traditions with religions playing minor roles at best? No religion by itself can imprint a specific culture on an individual. The western Christian culture is quite different from the culture of the Coptic Christians of Egypt, just as it is with the Indian Orthodox Christian communities of Kerala. The culture of Muslims in Bosnia is not identical to the Muslims of India, Bangladesh or Pakistan. For an Indian of any religion to be offended by anyone's claim that India is one nation, one people and one culture is baffling to me. Precisely because India is one nation and one people, I hope that India's present government will finally muster the requisite political courage to enact a single civil code for all Indian nationals as well as develop a uniform system for the management of all its religious places of worship and religious schools. Having read most of Mr. Dayal's polemical views and his explanations for the worsening of relations between Christians and Hindus in India, I believe that the 25 million Indian Christians who believe in India's pluralistic tradition would be better off by not allowing Mr. John Dayal to remain as their sole spokesman. Failure to do so will only result in more acrimony and strife among Hindus and Christians. Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated as offshoots of Hinduism. Their founders were neither crucified nor exiled. The ancient history of India attests to the symbiotic existence of multiple religions in that subcontinent. Religious tolerance has been the norm in India for thousands of years. Therefore, the emergence of religious intolerance there needs to be studied seriously in the context of foreign funding of all religious activities in India. Foreign sources of funding derived by all religious and charitable organizations in India deserve close monitoring by its government just as the US has begun to do with regard to similar organizations registered here. Towards Global Religious Tolerance Regardless of their religious affiliations, all religious leaders of goodwill can find myriads of theological convergences if they are open to sincere and deep inter-faith explorations. While it is less threatening for the practitioners of non-Abrahamic faiths to undertake such faith-based voyages of discovery, the religious fundamentalists of the monotheistic faiths shun all such excursions. India and China have a combined population of more than two billions who do not subscribe to Abrahamic faiths. Besides, China is becoming increasingly concerned at the inroads religions are making in that country. Therefore, it may be timely for the two nations to jointly seek an amendment to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which will explicitly forbid religious conversions attempted through physical coercion or material inducement[17]. Western democracies which advocate a strict separation of church and state should be challenged to lend their support for such a measure, more so because of the emerging menace of Al Qaeda and its philosophical stance steeped in Koranic literalism which argues for the worldwide establishment of 'sharia', the law of Islam[18].

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Therefore, I would like to propose further that secularists of all religions everywhere mount a vigorous campaign to limit full membership status and voting rights in the United Nations (UN) to countries that are truly secular. Theocratic nations should be encouraged to amend their Constitutions to reflect their secular status if they aspire to become full members of the UN. The US and many other western nations should also find such a proposition to be in tune with Jesus' advocacy to “give unto God what is God's and to Cesar what is Cesar's.[4k]” The US is particularly well poised to take the lead in such a move since the first amendment to the US Constitution explicitly erected a wall of separation between the church and the state. Thomas Jefferson, a liberal Christian President of the US, recognized very early the deleterious impact of religion on a pluralistic America which was then getting established. Writing about religion, he said that its negative potential “has been severely felt by mankind, and has filled the history of ten or twelve centuries with too many atrocities not to merit a proscription from meddling with government.[19]” He also objected to religious conversions rather strongly when he said that: “Were the Pope, or his allies, to send in mission to us some thousands of Jesuit priests to convert us to their orthodoxy, I suspect that we should deem and treat it as a national aggression on our peace and faith.[20]” India and many other nations are facing similar challenges today from both fundamentalist Christians and militant Islamists. If liberal Indians of all religions do not speak up and challenge their fundamentalist counterparts, India's precious tradition of religious tolerance will become a mere footnote to its ancient history. Likewise, if there is no worldwide effort to contain theocracies and ostracize the militants of all religions, the new millennium may indeed witness many clashes of civilizations. The UN may in fact be the last best hope for mankind to usher in a peaceful world devoid of religious upheavals. The liberal adherents of all religions are now at the crossroads of a crucial choice. They can either remain silent and permit their fundamentalist minorities to fan the flames of religious conflicts, or speak out against them and insist on religious tolerance as the only legitimate road to a peaceful world. As a Christian nurtured by the pluralistic tradition of India, my choice continues to be the latter. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The comments and suggestions of Rajiv Malhotra, Sankrant Sanu, Gopala Rao and Vinu Joyappa were very helpful to me in writing this article. I wish to recognize their valuable assistance. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Source: [<http://www.sulekha.com/column.asp?cid=305819>] May 22, 2003 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NOTES: [1]Gandhi, Mohandas K: In Young India, April 23, 1931 [2]David, Daniel: The Orthodox Church of India, Printaid, New Delhi., 1986, pp.97-100 [2a]Ibid. p. 153 [2b] Ibid. pp. 110-111 [2c] Ibid. pp. 383-428 [3]Brown, Harold J: Religious liberty: Greeks face prosleytization court test., Christianity Today, Vol.41, No, 11, 1997, p.89. [4] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Collins, NY, 1952. St. Matthew, 23:15

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[4a] Ibid. The Revelation, 16:12-16 [4b] Ibid. St. John, 14:2 [4c] Ibid. St. John, 10:30 [4d] Ibid. St. John, 3:3-7 [4e] Ibid. St. John, 9:1-3, St. Mark, 6:14-16., 8:27-29., 9:11-13., St. Matthew., 11:13-15., 17:10-13 [4f] Ibid. St. Matthew, 6:5-7 [4g] Ibid. St. Matthew, 18:21-23 [4h] Ibid. Isaiah, 2:3-5 [4i] Ibid. St. Matthew, 5:39-40 [4j] Ibid. St. Matthew, 6:2-4 [4k] Ibid. St. Luke, 20:25 [5]Broadway, Bill: Dire predictions for war in Iraq, The Washington Post, March 8, 2003, p. B 9. [6] Bumiller, Elizabeth: Aides say Bush girds for war in solitude, but not in doubt, The New York Times, March 9, 2003, p.1 [7] Merton, Robert K: Social theory and social structure, Glencoe, IL, Free Press, 1957 [8] Davidson John: The Gospel of Jesus, Element, Rockport, MA, 1995, pp. 47-77 [9] Pagels, Elaine: The Gnostic Gospels, Vintage Books, NY, 1989 [10] Borg Marcus: Jesus and Buddha, Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA. 1997 [11]Spong, John S: The Bishop's voice, Crossroads Publishing Company, NY. 1999, pp.143-146 [12] Tutu, Desmond. www.brainyquotes.com [13] Website, www.Ad2000.org [14] Dayal, John: website, www.Dalitstan.org/christian/dayal [15] Gupta, Arun K: Data on Hindu, Muslim Populations of Indian Subcontinent, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. (Go to www.indianetwork.org/res/relig2.html) [16] Patel, Bipin: www.indiacause.com/OL_091302.htm [17] Alexander, C.Alex: Gujarat & Hindu nationalism: a rejoinder to Dr. Lancy Lobo, OYSTER, Vol 5, No.3, Feb 2003, pp.5-8., (PO Box 42163, Washington, DC., 20015) [18] Berman, Paul: The philosopher of Islamic Terror, The New York Times Magazine, March 23, 2003, pp.24-67 [19] Cohen, Adam: What Jefferson would think of Ms. Myles addiction program, The New York Times, Week in Review, Section 4, March 0, 2003, p.23

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[20] Jefferson, Thomas: To Michael Megear (http//etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/ot2www-jeffquot)

(1823.ME.15:434),

electronic

text.

Go

to

7 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM -- LEGAL RESTRICTIONS ON CONVERSIONS By M. N. Rao (Former Chief Justice, High Court of Himachal Pradesh)
THERE IS no universally acceptable definition as to what exactly "religion" is. There appears to be near unanimity that religion, generally, is a belief or faith in the existence of a Supernatural Being and the precepts, which people follow for attaining salvation. Freedom of religion is a recognized basic right in all democratic countries founded upon the rule of law. The extent of the freedom varies from country to country. In a theocratic state, religion and law slide into each other and the freedom given to persons belonging to faiths other than the officially recognized state religion is always minimal. The freedom of religion is a universally accepted concept; it finds expression in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two International Covenants and certain declarations by the United Nations General Assembly. The Constitution of every democratic country incorporates provisions guaranteeing religious freedom to its citizens. In the United States, there is complete separation of religion from the state and this was brought about by the First Amendment to the American Constitution in 1791. This religious freedom in the United States has assumed, by judicial interpretation, strange and shocking manifestations - refusal to salute the National Flag was held to be a religious freedom, which could not be touched by any legislation. Fortunately, our Supreme Court, even in 1954, in what is popularly called Sirur Math's case, has rejected the American approach. Freedom of religion including the freedom to profess, practise and propagate religion, the Founding Fathers of our Constitution felt, should be assigned high priority and consequently, the same forms part of the Fundamental Rights incorporated in Articles 25 to 28 subject to certain limitations like public order, morality and health. Our concept of religious freedom is largely based upon Article 44(2) of the Irish Constitution. Freedom of religion implies freedom to change religion also. People convert from one religion to another due to myriad reasons. If conversion is a voluntary act responding to one's conscience, it cannot be faulted on grounds of either law or morality. Gandhiji's view Gandhiji viewed conversion as a personal matter and detested conversions brought about by promises of material gains. Bapuji's reaction when his son Harilal was converted to Islam because of monetary inducements is well known. Gandhiji declared: "Conversion without a clean heart is a denial of God and religion." In the Constituent Assembly, when the clause pertaining to freedom of religion came up for discussion, divergent views were expressed, not surprisingly, by members belonging to different religions. Right to

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propagate religion, according to K. M. Munshi, is part of the right of freedom of speech. One Christian member, Rev. J.J.M. Nicholas Roy, pleaded that even minors should be permitted to change their religion, which was not agreed to by the others. Muslim members advocated for constitutional prohibition of conversions. There was near unanimity on the question that right of conversion is part of religious freedom. Sardar Vallabbhai Patel moved the following clause as settled by the Advisory Committee for approval by the Constituent Assembly: "Conversion from one religion to another religion brought about by coercion or undue influence shall not be recognized by law." To this, an amendment was moved by Munshi: "Any conversion from one religion to another of any person brought about by fraud, coercion or undue influence or of a minor under the age of 18 years shall not be recognized by law." (See: Constituent Assembly Debates. Vol. III p.488). The matter was referred back to the Advisory Committee as serious doubts were expressed by the members as to whether legal restrictions on fraudulent conversions should be accorded high importance deserving inclusion in the Constitution. Ultimately, the clause concerning conversions was dropped on the ground that matters concerning conversion brought about by undue influence or coercion are fit for ordinary legislation but not worthy of incorporation as Fundamental Rights. The Advisory Committee in its report submitted to the Constituent Assembly on August 25, 1947 expressed the view: "It seems to us on further consideration that this clause enunciates a rather obvious doctrine which it is unnecessary to include in the Constitution and we recommend that it is dropped altogether." Emphatically expressing the view that "there is no difference of opinion on the merits of the case that forcible conversions should not be or cannot be recognised by law," Sardar Vallabbhai Patel advocated against incorporation of the provision in the Constitution since "these are all matters for ordinary legislation and not worthy of incorporation as Fundamental Rights... We cannot have a fundamental right for every conceivable thing. We are not legislating." In spite of this historical fact as to why the Founding Fathers have not incorporated a provision in the Constitution concerning conversions, controversies erupted whenever a law was made by a State legislature prohibiting conversions brought about by force, fraud, undue influence or allurement. In 1967-68, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa enacted laws prohibiting conversions brought about by force, allurement or by any fraudulent means. The Orissa Act was struck down by the High Court of Orissa on the ground that the definition of `force,' `fraud' and `inducement' are violative of the right of Christians to propagate their religion. The Orissa High Court also expressed the view that the power to legislate with regard to matters concerning religion exclusively vests in Parliament under entry 91 of List I of the VII Schedule and, therefore, no State legislature could enact a law on the topic of `religion.' On the other hand, the Madhya Pradesh High Court upheld the M.P. Act holding that it guarantees religious freedom to everybody and that there is no encroachment upon the freedom of any particular religion or individual. The State legislature had full power to legislate since the matter concerns public order, not religion. Against both the judgments, appeals were preferred to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Ray, who spoke for the Constitution Bench, upheld the validity of both the M.P. and Orissa Acts holding that the right to convert another is not part of freedom of conscience guaranteed by Article 25(1) of the Constitution and that forcible conversions result in the disturbance of public order. The recently enacted Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act 2002 is similar in all respects to the M.P. and Orissa Acts. Criticism about the need for such laws is plainly unsound. The provisions contained in the Indian Penal Code do not provide for any remedies for such contingencies envisaged by the anti-conversion laws. Social inequalities Change of religious faith takes place on account of several factors - two prominent factors so far as Hinduism is concerned are social inequalities and the prevalence of untouchability. People subjected to inhuman treatment and ignominy because of birth in a particular community, oftentimes, justify their conversion into another religion, which promises or ensures a dignified way of living for them. The absence of specific provisions in the Constitution cannot be taken aid of to contend that the Constitution, in effect, permits conversions brought about by any means. There cannot be any dispute that every citizen of India is

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free to change his/her religion, provided the change is a voluntary act responding to the call of one's conscience. When the highest court of this country has upheld the constitutionality of laws prohibiting fraudulent conversions, any criticism that these laws are aimed at depriving the rights of minority religions is absolutely baseless. Attacking the Union Government or the State Governments on the ground that they are failing to uphold the Constitution by allowing the above laws to come into existence, is clearly motivated and aimed at gaining cheap publicity in international fora. What is surprising is that no responsible functionary from the government or major political parties so far has presented a correct picture as to the entire controversy. The United Nations Sub-Commission on Human Rights must be apprised of the legal position obtaining in this country before further damage is done by ill-informed critics. -----------------------------------------------------Source: [<http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/op/2003/07/08/stories/2003070800080200.htm>] 8/7/2003

Appendix-1 'CHURCH BACKING TRIPURA REBELS'
By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta The BBC The government in India's north-eastern state of Tripura says it has evidence that the state's Baptist Church is involved in backing separatist rebels. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said state police had uncovered details of the alleged link after questioning a church leader. Nagmanlal Halam, secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, was arrested late on Monday with a large quantity of explosives. Mr Sarkar said that allegations about the close links between the state's Baptist Church and the rebel National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) have long been made by political parties and police. Now for the first time, he said, hard evidence supporting the allegations had been found. EXPLOSIVES Mr Sarkar told the BBC that Mr Halam was found in possession of more than 50 gelatine sticks, 5kg of potassium and 2kg of sulphur and other ingredients for making explosives. Chief Minister Sarkar says he has proof. He said that two other junior members of the same church, arrested last week, had tipped the police off about the explosives which were meant for the NLFT rebels. The chief minister said that Mr Halam confessed to buying and supplying explosives to the NLFT for the past two years. Another church official, Jatna Koloi, was arrested in south Tripura last week. Police say Mr Koloi had received training in guerrilla warfare at an NLFT base last year. CONVERSION Guards have been placed outside the headquarters of the Baptist Church in Tripura's capital, Agartala, to prevent possible attacks on it once the news of Mr Halam's arrest spread.

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The NLFT is accused of forcing Tripura's indigenous tribes to become Christians and give up Hindu forms of worship in areas under their control. Last year, they issued a ban on the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja. The NLFT manifesto says that they want to expand what they describe as the kingdom of God and Christ in Tripura. The Baptist Church in Tripura was set up by missionaries from New Zealand 60 years ago. It won only a few thousand converts until 1980 when in the aftermath, of the state's worst ethnic riot, the number of conversions grew.

APPENDIX-2 SEPARATIST MOVEMENTS IN NORTHEAST INDIA DERIVE SUPPORT FROM FOREIGN MISSIONARY GROUPS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Nagaland Baptist Missionary web site: <http://www.srt.com/baptist/missions21.html> A pamphlet being circulated among western churches: <http://www.angelfire.com/mo/Nagaland/ABC.html> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------A careful perusal of the contents of the above sites reveals that the separatist movement in the North East India derive support from the foreign missionary groups. Some of the important points mentioned in the said sites (captions are provided): BPTISTS SUPPORT UNDERGROUND ACTIVITIES All the underground organizations are led by and made up of Christians, predominantly Baptists. ‘WE ARE OPRESSED AND PERSECUTED BY THE INDIAN GOVT.’ The Indian government empowers its soldiers to arrest, shoot and even kill at will anyone (in Nagaland) suspected of subversive actions against the government The oppression and persecution of the Naga people perpetrated by the Indian government are unpublicized. Yet a whole generation has grown up in the midst of civil unrest. ‘WE WANT INDEPENDENCE FROM INDIA’ For 50 years the Naga people have struggled for Independence from India. Despite their valiant efforts, Nagaland remains an occupied territory. Please pray for an end to the human rights violations as a result of the occupation of Nagaland by India. BOYCOTTING ELECTIONS AND PURSUING POLITICAL NEGOTIATIONS Naga Religious, Political and Civic Organizations announce Boycott of Indian Elections, Call for Political Negotiations. We effectively pursue political negotiations with the Indian government ‘WE WANT A SOLUTION, NOT AN ELECTION’ Each Naga group has its own understanding of how and when to win independence from the Indian government. Nagas' New Slogan: "We want a solution, not an election."

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‘SEEKING PRAYER AND PEACEFUL FREEDOM’ Please make Sunday, February 22, a special day of prayer where we join our sisters and brothers in Nagaland in their prayers for a peaceful freedom. ‘NAGAS ARE A DIFFERENT RACE’ Nagaland is made up of numerous Naga tribes, all of which, because of their Mongolian descent, have more in common with Burmese tribes, their neighbors to the east, than they do with India ‘NAGAS NEED OUR SUPPORT’: BILLY GRAHAM I was reported to be the first Western man ever visit. Because I am one of the few Westerners permitted to visit Nagaland, I feel a profound burden to share their story with the rest of the world. In fact, they have asked me to speak clearly to the rest of the world, even at the risk of being denied future entry to their country. . The Naga people need our support for a peaceful resolution to their plight. (Excerpt from Billy Graham's Autobiography, Just as I Am). FROM HEADHUNTERS TO CHRISTIANS When Dr. John Sundquist, Executive Director, International Ministries American Baptist Churches Valley Forge, PA, visited Nagaland, a Naga Baptist youth group performed a musical drama which depicted the Nagas' transformation from headhunters to Christians MASS CONVERSIONS BY BAPTIST MISSIONARIES Naga people, former headhunters who, through the efforts of American Baptist missionaries, have become a state which boasts of a population that is 90 percent Christian - with 90 percent of those Christians proclaiming to be Baptist. Nagas attribute their marked differences from the rest of India to their commitment to Christianity. Nagas were transformation from headhunters to Christians. Being transformed by Christ, Nagas have become a gentile people. BRINGING THE GOSPEL TO ALL OF NAGALAND All Naga Baptists self-support their pastors, are self-governing and believe wholly in self-propagation bringing the Gospel to all of Nagaland. In fact, 125 new missionaries/evangelists were commissioned by the Nagas at the 125th anniversary celebration. Let us continue to maintain our reputation as a people united in our efforts to see the whole world come to know Jesus Christ and to live in peace. NORTHEAST INDIA OF BAPTIST MAJORITY It is estimated that in northeast India some 90 percent of the Naga population is Christian with the vast majority of those affiliated with Baptist congregations, the result of a unique history of Baptist missionary work from the U.S. OUTLET MEDIA CONTACT IN THE US This Report on Nagaland was prepared by the Baptist Peace Fellowship. Please feel free to distribute to your local media. You may use your own letterhead if you see fit. If a spokesperson is desired, have the outlet media contact Corenne Garrison, Director of Communications, International Ministries, at the ABC office, 1-800-ABC3USA Contact: Correne Garrison Director of Communications, International Ministries American Baptist Churches 1-800-ABC-3USA Contents of the web sites reproduced below: ============================================================================

IMMANUEL BAPTIST MISSIONS

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Taku Longkumer (a Naga gentleman short in stature, but tall in commitment), his wife, Katie, and their three children, are dearly loved and respected by many in the church family of Immanuel. Since their visit to our church in October,1995, their work in the northeast corner of India has become very real and very important to us. A letter recently written by Dr. John A. Sundquist, Executive Director, International Ministries, American Baptist Churches, Valley Forge PA, reminded us again of the importance of our prayers and support of fellow believers in their work for Christ around the world. Following are portions of Dr. Sundquist's letter. May it stir us to fervent prayer for our brothers and sisters in Nagaland. * * * *

"Nagaland, an isolated area tucked in the mountainous, jungle covered northeast corner of India near the Burmese border. The area (is) home to a dozen separate tribes, each with its own dialect and often with a history of headhunting. Tensions among Nagaland's tribes, and an armed guerilla movement bent on independence from India, (make) it a highly unstable area." Excerpt from Billy Graham's Autobiography, “Just as I Am”: Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: We need your help. Many of you may know the story of the Naga people, former headhunters who, through the efforts of American Baptist missionaries, have become a state which boasts of a population that is 90 percent Christian - with 90 percent of those Christians proclaiming to be Baptist. Mission Done Right The people of Nagaland consider their literacy rate 40 times higher than the rest of India. They have no hunger and little unemployment. They attribute their marked differences from the rest of India to their commitment to Christianity. I was present this past November, along with a delegation of American Baptists, to celebrate the 125 years since E.W. Clark, our first missionary to Nagaland, brought the Gospel to the Naga people. Nagaland is a story of mission done right. Less than two dozen missionaries planted the seeds for what today is an incredibly strong church. All Naga Baptists self-support their pastors are self-governing and believe wholly in self-propagation - bringing the Gospel to all of Nagaland. In fact, 125 new missionaries/evangelists were commissioned by the Nagas at the 125th anniversary celebration. I marvel at the Baptist church in Nagaland as we struggle (successfully, because of your support) to appoint 33 new missionaries in one year. For 50 years the Naga people have struggled for Independence from India. Nagaland is made up of numerous Naga tribes, all of which, because of their Mogolian descent, have more in common with Burmese tribes, their neighbors to the east, than they do with India. Like many indigenous groups in the area, the Nagas' land was arbitrarily split by colonial powers into what they consider false regions, separating them from other Naga groups in other countries. Despite their valiant efforts, Nagaland remains an occupied territory. The Indian government empowers its soldiers to arrest, shoot and even kill at will anyone suspected of subversive actions against the government. It is said to be the most unreported area of civil conflict in the second half of this century, with estimates of up to 300,000 casualties. We don't hear about these casualties because the Indian Government has deemed Nagaland to be a "restricted" zone, meaning few people from the outside are given permission to visit. I have, by the good will of the Indian government, been granted entry five times - even when others were not given permits. In one mountainous village, I was reported to be the first Western man ever visit. Because I am one of the few Westerners permitted to visit Nagaland, I feel a profound burden to share their story with the rest of the world. In fact, they have asked me to speak clearly to the rest of the world, even at the risk of being denied future entry to their country.

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Underground Conflict Several underground groups have emerged to resist India's occupation of Nagaland and the overwhelming presence of Indian soldiers. Because Nagaland is made up of so many tribal groups that have vastly different languages and customs, the underground groups have emerged from different tribes. Each has its own understanding of how and when to win independence from the Indian government. However, over the last 50 years, the tribal distinction among the underground groups have become less distinct. All the underground organizations are led by and made up of Christians, predominantly Baptists. They claim to use peaceful measures to bring about change and to retaliate only in self-defense. However, when an Indian soldier is injured or killed, his comrades frequently retaliate on the civilian population. There are well-documented cases of Naga women being raped or assaulted, crops being destroyed and women and children dying in concentration camps of malnutrition, torture and forced labor. The Indian government has used the disagreement among the Nagas to its advantage, fronting killings and placing the blame on one of the insurgent groups, pitting one tribal group against another. In recent history, the fighting between the underground groups has been more pronounced than the fighting against the Indian government. What make this most tragic is that this fighting, and often times bloodshed, is among Christian brothers. What Does This Have To Do With Your Church? On several occasions, I have met personally and prayed with, the leadership of each of the underground organizations. They have sought me out for spiritual guidance and counseling - not because of my wisdom, but because of the respect they have for their rich history and spiritual roots embedded in American Baptist Churches. It is a humbling thought that I stand in solidarity with our Naga Christian sisters and brothers because of our history together. No one else has the same connection with the Naga church as we do; and we have all but forgotten the Naga people. They are the best mission story never told. But this story, without divine intervention, may have a tragic end. I believe these underground leaders are devoted Christians wrought with frustration for their people, but they are also looking for a peaceful avenue to freedom. Many Christian leaders pleaded with me to use the occassion of the 125 year celebration of Christianity in Nagaland as an opportunity to speak out against the violence and call for reconciliation among the Naga people. I challenged the more than 120,000 people in attendance to stand if they would no longer tolerate the violence inflicted upon innocent people. We then joined in a mass prayer, each person praying in his or her own language. I am told that over a thousand underground soldiers were in attendance, and all of them stood as a sign of their Commitment to stop the bloodshed. As a result, God has continued to work in the hearts of the Naga people. Up till the time of the 125th anniversary celebration there was one Indian soldier for every eight Naga civilians. However, to allow foreigners like myself and the other delegates to attend the 125th celebration, a special cease-fire agreement between the underground groups and the Indian government was signed. Some of the soldiers were removed, and I am happy to report that there has not been one shot fired since the celebration event. The cease-fire agreement has held. Steps toward unity have progressed. The Naga people see the celebration event as a watershed moment for them. They believe that peace will prevail. Nagas' New Slogan: "We want a solution, not an election." In both an encouraging movement toward unity within the within the Nagas and a non-violent protest against the India government, Naga tribal leaders have unanimously signed the accord, found on the back of this letter, which calls for a boycott of the Monday, February 23, elections of government officials who primarily serve the purpose of the Indian government rather than those of the Naga people. Every village will display a white flag and every Naga is requested to wear white clothing on Sunday, February 22, as a symbol declaration of support for a just peace. My brothers and sisters.

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We are the voice of Nagaland to the outside world. The tragedy for the Nagas is that India controls all information coming from Nagaland. Outsiders are kept out of the area so that the oppression and persecution of the Naga people perpetrated by the Indian government are unpublicized. The Naga people need our support for a peaceful resolution to their plight. The Nagas, being transformed by Christ, have become a gentile people. Yet a whole generation has grown up in the midst of civil unrest. A reported 300,000 have died. Let us pray fervently February 22, that the next generation be spared. Prior to the cease-fire agreement signed for the 125 years of Christianity celebration, there was one Indian soldier per eight Naga citizens. If unrest resumes, additional "special troops" will return. A Naga pastor, along with 120,000 other Christians, participate in a mass prayer for peace, each in their own tribal language. The prayer was led by Dr. John Sundquist, at the 125th anniversary celebration of the coming of the gospel to Nagaland. 125 Years of Christianity: Dr. John Sundquist visits with a Naga Baptist youth group who performed a musical drama at the celebration. The drama depicted the Nagas' transformation from headhunters to Christians. WHAT CAN YOU DO Please ask your congregations for three things: 1. The Naga churches will spend Sunday, February 22, in prayer for the elections they are boycotting the next day. They are peaceful protesting what they consider to be a "puppet government." Please make Sunday, February 22, a special day of prayer where we join our sisters and brothers in Nagaland in their prayers for a peaceful freedom. Please pray specifically for the end of fighting among the Nagas and for them to show the whole world that, because of Christ in their lives, they live in peace. 2. Please pray for an end to the human rights violations as a result of the occupation of Nagaland by India. 3.Please contact your local papers and radio and television stations, and ask them to carry a story about the elections and the Naga perspective on the issues, emphasizing the human rights violations not being reported because of the Indian government's suppression of information. I am enclosing a copy of a press release written by the Baptist Peace Fellowship which accurately outlines the issue. I would encourage you to use this release with your local media contacts. We would like our Naga sisters and brothers to know that we are praying for them and that we support them. If your congregation has agreed to pray for peace, please have members sign the enclosed card and return it to us so we can forward all the cards to our Baptist leadership in Nagaland. They have urged us to be their prayer support and believe that it is the only way they will find reconciliation. My dear friends, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the missionaries who have come before us and given us a sterling reputation as a people of prayer. Let us continue to maintain our reputation as a people united in our efforts to see the whole world come to know Jesus Christ and to live in peace. In the Power of the Gospel, Dr. John A. Sundquist Executive Director, International Ministries -----------------------------------------------------American Baptist Churches Valley Forge, PA . 19482-0851. (610)7682201.

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Fax (610) 7682088 -----------------------------------------------------Churches: the following is a news on Nagaland prepared by the Baptist Peace Fellowship. Please feel free to distribute to your local media. You may use your own letterhead if you see fit. If a spokesperson is desired, have the outlet media contact: Corenne Garrison, Director of Communications, International Ministries, at the ABC office, 1-800-ABC3USA FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Correne Garrison Director of Communications, International Ministries American Baptist Churches 1-800-ABC-3USA Naga Religious, Political and Civic Organization announce Boycott of Indian Elections, Call for Political Negotiations The Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), largest religious body in Nagaland, a state in northeast India, has become the first of several religious, political and civic organizations to announce support of a statement calling for the postponement of scheduled state assembly elections and urging all citizens to express their opposition by displaying "a white flag or garment on Sunday, 22 February, as a symbolic declaration of support for a just peace." Stating that "Because the Nagas want a solution, not an election," the seven-point statement - "Peace Agenda for Nagalim"* - calls for a continuation of the cease-fire among all parties in the region; urges "that the on-going dialogue between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) be honored by the parties concerned," and encourages every Naga congregation to set aside Sunday, February 22, "for prayer for the process of building peace, understanding and reconciliation." Referring to the "Peace Agenda" document, John Sundquist, Executive Director of the American Baptist Churches Board of International Ministries (BIM), noted that "the Nagas are providing a powerful witness as they work toward internal unity" in order to "effectively pursue political negotiations with the Indian government." Having been "isolated from the world's consciousness," said Sundquist, "their plight deserves worldwide attention." Sundquist praised the courage of the NBCC, long-standing BIM partner, and its general secretary, Rev. Dr. W. Pongsing, for his participation and leadership in this initiative. Dr. Denton Lotz, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, echoed those same sentiments: "Baptists of the world rejoice at the new initiative for peace in Nagaland. We join in prayer with our brothers and sisters in Christ as they join together for freedom and justice in Nagaland." The "Agenda for Peace" statement has also been endorsed by the NSCN, the outlawed political party, whose military has engaged in violent confrontation with Indian armed forces for many years, along with numerous other Naga political and civic groups. The conflict in northeast India, now ruled under provisions of martial law, has been referred to as the most unreported situation of civil strife in modern history. Estimates of fatalities resulting from the conflict with Indian security forces and among competing Naga insurgent groups - range anywhere from 150,000 to 300,000 over the past 50 years. Severe travel and communication restrictions in the region make it difficult for journalists to gain access or news to be sent out. One of the results of numerous failed attempts at resolving the conflict in the region has been the splintering of the Nagas into competing political parties.

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The Naga people, of Mongolian ancestry, are indigenous to what is now northeast India, Northwest of Myanmar (formerly Burma) and southern China. It is estimated that in northeast India some 90 percent of the Naga population is Christian with the vast majority of those affiliated with Baptist congregations, the result of a unique history of Baptist missionary work from the U.S. Like most indigenous groups in the area, their historic lands were arbitrarily split by colonial powers (Great Britain, in this case) between different modern nation-states. At the close of British colonial rule in 1947, the Nagas were promised their independence by the Indian authorities. When that agreement was later rescinded it prompted an ongoing low-level state of civil war in the region. In late July 1997, just prior to a dialog meeting of Naga political, religious and social groups, hosted in Atlanta, Georgia, by the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA), the NSCN and the Indian government announced a temporary cease-fire to allow for political negotiations. The July 1997 Atlanta meeting of Naga leaders produced "The Atlanta Appeal", calling for unity among the Nagas "by relinquishing old antagonisms." The statement acknowledged that some of the violence within the Naga community "has been self-inflicted" and agreed to "strategies to promote dialog." Later, following further mediation talks, the NSCN announced a unilateral cease-fire with other Naga insurgent forces effective during the special celebrations in Nagaland in late November 1997, marking the 127th anniversary of the coming of Christian missionaries to the area. As recently as January 31, 1998, the NSCN and the Indian government agreed to an extension of the cease-fire between them. According to Naga Baptist leaders, the result of the cease-fire agreements is that no Nagas have been killed in military or factional fighting since last November. "Nagalim" is a term recently coined by Naga leaders to distinguish between the Indian state of Nagaland (created in 1962) and the historic lands of the Naga people in the region. The word "lim" means "land" in Ao, one of the Naga dialects. Some three million Nagas, of some 36 tribal groups, live in a 47,000 square mile region (slightly larger than the state of Ohio) of northeast India, northwest Myanmar (Burma) and the Southern China. ============================================================================

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