You are on page 1of 3

On Conversion: Some Reflections S.

Lourdunathan

1. At the out set I thank you for inviting me to reflect with you on the theme of Conversion. 2. The issue of conversion needs to be revisited with purpose of broadening our vision of the Christian presence in \ against the context of Saffaranization (singularization) of the Indian society. 3. The context is of course: (a) the militant forces that consolidates of communalism and fundamentalism. (not foundationalism) (b) the actual threat to the presence of the Minorities (c) the attempt to monopolise \ singularise Indian culture in to monolithic frame or structure (d) the forceful enforcement of Hindutva which believes in the paradigm of „isolation of the Other‟ with its caste hierarchy (e) The accusation of Hindutva forces that evangelization is Conversion to Christianity.

What is religious conversion? It is a change from one religion to another. The Hindutva vadins accuse that the Christians are involved in promoting Conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. Here the fundamental issue is that is there any thing called Hindu religion at all in order that one is accused of promoting conversion. The truth of ‘Hindu’ Hindu \ Hindutva is a ideological construction and Revivalism We know that the term Hindu, did not have any meaning until the late 19 the century. The term Hindu is a political and cultural construction only at the end of 19 th century onwards. And scholars point out such a term was constructed in parallel with and an alternative to Christian or Islamic notion of singular or ONE religion. With in this context of Hindu India as singular in religion and polity, the politics of Indian independence, the politics of Congress party is to be situated. The social contribution of Indian renaissance movements like Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, and few other revival movements revolve around this socialization process of Singularization of Indian culture. Such a politics continue until the present day politics. It is not far from truth if we say that the ruling political party of our nation is an off shoot of this socially constructed program that started in the end of 19th century. From Renaissance period until the present political period, any scholar would easily draw a horizontal line and a vertical line in conceptual bearing and in political success. Such a monolithic dimension of reconstruction Hindu nation or Hindu religion in to a singular entity \ identity is purpose-intended. The purpose

is political in order to safe guard the interest of the ruling class and caste privileged society. (In the Indian history, the process of Singularization\ Hinudisation\ saffarnisation of Indian culture is a backward movement)

The founders of the RSS base themselves on the following assumptions: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) There is an entity (religion) called Hinduism and its characteristic uniformity is Casteism and therefore, Who ever follows Caste is a Hindu. So in India, A Christian or an Islamic person is none other than, a Christian Hindu, or Islam–Hindu. (v) What is needed therefore is to wipe away the „Christian‟ or Islamic attributes and not the caste attributes. It is fine that you practice caste but not fine that you practice other religion. Therefore, The Calls is to RECONVERT to Hinduism. However, the issue: conversion to Christianity or any other religion is not a conversion from Hinduism because Hinduism itself a constructed religious-fiction. Hindunationalism is a political fiction for (vested interests) political power- domination. Therefore, the real debate should center on the issue of Re-conversion to Hinduism not necessarily on conversion to other religions.

Hindutva is a violation of Indian Constitution (In favour of Conversion) Indian Constitution do assert the right to practice, profess a religion of one‟s choice; one‟s conscience; it deems it as an exercise of freedom. Given to the constitutional assertion, an act or an argument against Conversion is a unconstitutional. It is an act of violating the law. If so, could we say that „Hindutva‟ is a violation of Indian constitution? The idea that Hindu is India and India is Hindu may be identified as „Hindu Nationalism‟; this propagation is again a violation of the Secularist \ democratic characteristic of our constitution. If so, could we say that „Hindutva‟ is a violation of Indian constitution? Ambedkar Model as an instance: (i) (ii) “I promise that I will not die a Hindu”- is a theory laden issue. Conversion to Buddhism for Ambedkar is foundationally an act of social and political protest. It is a conversion from Fiction to reality. It is an assertion of one‟s ethnic identity and an escape from the trap of Hinduism.

(iii) (iv)

(v)

It is an assertion of the self worth of the human person against caste denial of the self worth of being human. It is an act of reaching out to the other- to live in community – against value hierarchical caste frame of society. It is an affirmation of the right of the minority against militant majority. In short, It is an exercise of freedom and justice.

(vi)

(vii)

What is Christian Conversion: Introspection: One should introspect and accept the fact that there existed in the church an exclusivistic model in our attempt to „denominize, christianize, the entire world; this gives rise to the allegation that the Church monopolized truth. The mere conversion with out questioning the inhuman practices like caste rather actively accommodating or practicing it remains to be treated „the weakness of considering ourselves as Hindu-Christian. Already there is church-segregation, and with in the church segregation there is lots of isolations in terms of value – hierarchy. Added to that, we have conveniently continue to be Caste-cultured in spite of our conversion. We stand increasingly isolated and separated in terms of the both Church and caste. The problem here is that we lack sufficient political will and cultural strength to combat communalism and its programs of Reconversion. The roots for real Conversion lies in our practical political mobilization against problem of the roots of alienation, injustice, poverty, and discriminations on the basis caste and power. Re-affirming the federal character of our constitution means promotion of plurality. The socio spiritual or ethical issue of Justice should be the uniting factor or political will and strength to confront communalism or singularization or Hindu nationalization. How far we need to prepare towards this, remains to be an issue for all of us to affirm our multiplicity.

------