Christianity in India The Hindutva Perspective

by Ashok V. Chowgule
Preface A Pluralistic Hinduism The Christian Challenge Objections to conversions Christianity in India Liberal Christianity? Christianity and the Brahmins Dialogue Politicisation of issues Missionary social service Vandalism and apology Christians in India Today

Appendices Notification Concerning The Writings Of Father Anthony De Mello, SJ - Congregation for the doctrine of the faith. A Retrospect: Christianity in India (An exposition of the RSS view of the Relevance of Christianity in India Today) Arun Shourie and the Missionaries in India Comments of Ashok Chowgule on the Articles ?Christians Awake? by Shri Hansel D?Souza

Annexure Christians Awake! Paranoia of Proselytisation

Preface Being involved a dialogue with some Christians, I had an opportunity to peruse material relating to Christianity and its relationship with other faiths. While I concentrated on the encounter with Hinduism, I studied other encounters too, and what Christians have to say about themselves and their own system. Looking at the totality, I was surprised at the vast chasm between what the impression most Hindus have about Christianity and what the fact is. I also realised that the Christian hierarchy and the apologists have mounted a sustained campaign of misinformation. The compulsion of writing this book was the way the issue of the attacks on Christian establishments has been politicised. In the programme, the Christian clergy has been amply supported by the laity and those who go under the rubric of ‘secularist’. The objective of the whole exercise is not only to put Hinduism in bad light, but also India. This book will not deal with the attacks, but will present the sociopolitical issues that are important to be tackled if Christianity is to co-exist in harmony with Hinduism. Careful thought will have to be given to them, since the history of Christianity in India is not something to be proud of The sad part is that this history is sought to be negated, and the ‘secularists’ are as much at fault as the Christian clergy. At least one can rationalise the behaviour of the clergy. But what is the excuse of the ‘secularists’ to authenticate the clergy’s programme? Much of the book is devoted to quotes from already published material. Many of them are from Christian sources. The objective is to inform the reader that the points being made are not new. However, they have not been addressed, and that the same old issues’ are raked up again and again. This book has four appendixes. They have to be read in totality to understand the flavour of the argument. As above, another objective of reproducing the whole texts is to inform the reader that the points made are not new. Hindu philosophy has always been accommodative. It will continue to be so, provided Christianity reciprocates the tolerant spirit of Hinduism.

I A Pluralistic Hinduism Before we address the issues concerned, there is a need to appreciate that there is a difference in which religion is looked at in the Hindu and Christian viewpoint. For a Hindu, religion is not a mere ritual, but a philosophy of life. We know that Hinduism does not have a book, a prophet, or a centralised hierarchy. The correct description of Hinduism is Sanatan Dharma. While Sanatan has an English equivalent, meaning eternal, translating Dharma as religion is not proper. Dharma encompasses religion. Confusion prevails when Dharma is equated with religion. Hinduism has a religious connotation in the Western sense, as well as a philosophical connotation in the Eastern sense. Hinduism believes in pluralism - that is there are multiple paths to salvation and one chooses the path that one thinks is valid for oneself. This is the hallmark of its tolerance. Its ethos is expressed in the shloka Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudda Vadanti, which is best translated as follows: “There is an eternal Truth, but there are many

ways to achieve it.” While a Hindu may vigorously argue about the merit of his/her way to achieve the Truth, he/she will accept that another person may have a different way which is better situated to that individual. Hindus consider that the belief that one is in sole possession of the Truth is an impediment to enlightenment. It is even regarded as being arrogant. Christianity believes in exclusivism. It says that Christ in the only Son of God, and was sent to this world to lead the people to Him. Upon the death of Christ, this task was given to the Church set up in the name of Christ. The present inheritors of Christ are the Popes, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the priests, etc. Furthermore, Christianity believes that Christ has commanded his followers that it is their duty to convert others to their system. Many have interpreted this command to imply that one could use physical violence as a means to achieve the objective. Christianity divides the world into believers and non-believers, with the former going to heaven, and the latter to that place where one is eternally barbecued! Moreover, the believers do not go to heaven on their own merit, but only on the intervention of Christ. It is the priests in the parish who is supposed to have a line to Christ. The request for forgiveness of any sin that is committed by a Christian is to be conveyed through the priest. Under the circumstances, the priest has a tremendous amount of influence over the laity, since he is supposed to intercede between man and god. Shri S Radhakrishnan, one of the famous philosophers of this century, said: Christian theology becomes relevant only for those who share or accept a particular kind of spiritual experience, and these are tempted to dismiss other experiences as illusory and other scriptures as imperfect. Hinduism has not betrayed into this situation on account of its adherence to fact.... When the Hindu found that different people aimed at and achieved God-realisation in different ways, he generously recognised them all and justified their place in the course of history. (The Hindu View of Life, Harper Collins, Delhi 1973, p 16.) The pluralistic philosophy of Hinduism has enabled it to absorb and nurture various diverse systems of beliefs. Many have evolved from this land, to address a particular situation that developed. In other cases, one or more individual put forward a set of propositions which is supposed to elevate the person to a higher spiritual plane. All these philosophies worked within the milieu of the cultural Hinduism, and never tiled to denigrate the people and their philosophy. Hinduism has the unique history of not persecuting the Jews and permitting the Zoroastrians to maintain their own religion, when both the groups had to flee their original lands due to religious persecution. Swami Vivekanand has captured the essence of this record when he said: Three religions now stand in the world which have come down to us from time prehistoric - Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. They all received tremendous shocks, and all of them prove by their survival their internal strength. But while Judaism failed to absorb Christianity and was driven out of its place of birth by its all-conquering daughter, and a handful of Parsees is all that remains to tell the tale of their grand religion, sect after sect arose in India and seemed to shake the religion of the Vedas to its very foundations, but like the waters of the sea-shore in a tremendous earthquake it receded only for a while, only to return in an all-absorbing flood, a thousand times more vigorous, and when the tumult of the rush was over, these sects were all sucked in,

absorbed and assimilated into the immense body of the mother faith. (Paper on Hinduism, World Parliament of Religions, September 19, 1893.) Hinduism is a dynamic philosophy, ever reforming ever progressing. It has attracted thinking people in all times. Even those with very little Hindu background have been attracted to the philosophy. Many who started their study of Hinduism with an intention of damning it have come to be amongst its greatest admirers. Hinduism encourages people to think for themselves, and so has developed a scientific temperament. According to Prof Klaus Klostermaier, a teacher of comparative religions at a university in Canada, this is what has attracted many thinking people. He says: Hinduism will spread not so much through the gurus and swamis, who attract certain number of people looking for a new commitment and a quasimonastic life-style, but it will spread mainly through the work of intellectuals and writers, who have found certain Hindu ideas convincing and who identify them with their personal beliefs. A fair number of leading physicists and biologists have found parallels between modem science and Hindu ideas. An increasing number of creative scientists will come from a Hindu background and will consciously and unconsciously blend their scientific and their religious ideas. All of us may be already much more Hindu than we think. (A Survey of Hinduism, p 414. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd, Delhi.) It is not the intention of the Hindutvavadis to project that everything in Hinduism is perfect, and that there are no bad practices. However, these are issues internal to Hinduism, and it is a tradition of the philosophy to make the necessary reforms. This has made Hinduism resiliant and is today the oldest surviving civilisation in the world. Such reforms are effective when they come from within. External forces can at best be a catalyst. Often, the motive of the external input could be suspect. Abbe Dubois, a French Roman Catholic missionary operating in India in the early 1800s, wrote: “On their arrival in (India, the missionaries) continue to look at (Indians) with European eyes, and European prejudices, and to act accordingly; but finding themselves disappointed in all their attempts to make an impression upon them on the score of religion or otherwise, they, in their fiery zeal, or rather in their despair, avenge themselves by lavishing every kind of abuse and insult not only on their religion, but also on their institutions, both public and private, sacred and profane.” (Letters on the State of Christianity in India, Asian Educational Services, Delhi, 1995, pp 148-9.) Hindu history has streams of examples of people who have done yeoman service to reduce the evils that have crept in all ages. Yet, many evils do remain. But these have nothing to do with the philosophy of Hinduism. Other reasons have contributed to it. The fact that Hinduism is the oldest surviving civilisation must wake up the detractors to its essential greatness that has been attested by many modem thinkers. Shri Arnold Toynbee said: “Today we are still living in this transitional chapter of world’s history but it is already becoming clear that the chapter which had a western beginning, will have an Indian ending, if it is not to end in self destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way - Emperor Asoka’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s principal of non-violence and Sri Ramakrishna’s testimony of religions.” (Foreword to ‘India’s contribution to world thought and culture’, 1970.)

In a pluralistic Hinduism, religious minorities need not have any fear. At the same time, there has to be responsibility of these other religions to respect the Hindu civilisation, and not to provoke it. Hindus have resisted the attacks that have been mounted not only on the land, but also the culture. Hindu tolerance should not be confused with cowardice, lack of selfconfidence, or weakness of faith. The Jews have been grateful to the Hindus for the exemplary way they were treated in this land. The so-called Cochin Jews of what today is the Indian state of Kerala and the Bene Israel of Maharashtra are remarkable and specially worthy of note because, unlike Jews in the most other parts of the world, they were allowed to live in peace and harmony in India for many centuries.... Of particular interest to students of Jewish history, there is not only the impressive fact that Indian Jews were never victimised by anti-Semitism but also that there existed for centuries on the Indian soil in Kerala the rare phenomenon of a privileged, highly honoured, respected and largely autonomous Jewish community, and of the Bene Israel whose origins might conceivably go back to the lost tribes of Israel. (“India’s Bene Israel”, Shirley Berry Isenberg.) The Zoroastrians had to flee their homeland due to religious persecution. They landed on the West Coast of India, in what is now the state of Gujarat. The Hindu King of Sanjan, Jadi Rana, allowed them to settle in his land provided they accepted the following five conditions 1. The Parsees’ high priest would have to explain their religion to the King. 2. The Parsees would have to give up their native Persian language and take on the language of India. 3. The women should exchange their traditional Persian garb with the customary dress of the country. 4. The men should lay down their weapons. 5. The Parsees should hold their wedding processions only in the dark. (The Parsees in India, Eckehard Kulke, Vikas Publishing, Delhi, 1979, p 28.) The objective of these conditions is that the Parsees would be socially and culturally assimilated with the rest of the people, even while being completely free to maintain and practice their own religion. Shri Kulke goes on to say, “Five years after their settlement in Sanjan, the Parsees built at this site their first fire temple (Atash-Behram) on Indian soil, which was to shelter from then on their holy fire rescued from Iran. With this, the Parsees had a new religious centre which contributed to their close attachment to their newly chosen homeland.” The holy place of pilgrimage for the Parsees is in a Hindu land, and not in Iran. The Christians who came here in 4th century from Syria due to religious persecution from their co-religionists, were also the recipients of the tolerance of the Hindus. Shri E.R.Hambye said, Being a minority in a closed milieu and not always well-trained and instructed, it is remarkable that (the Syrian Christians) kept the faith together with their social status. (The Syrian Christians in India, Clergy Monthly, vol 16, nr 10, 1952, p 386.) This was possible because the Syrian Christians reciprocated the kindness shown to them by the Hindus. Shri Duncan B Forrester said,

The Syrian Christians, like the Jews of Cochin and the Bene Israel of Bombay, survived and indeed flourished because they accepted the social system within which they found themselves and observed its norms. (Caste and Christianity: Attitudes and Policies on Caste of Anglo-Saxon Protestant Missions in India, London, Curzon Press, 1979, p 100.) Shri S Radhakrishnan said, The famous Kottayam plates of Sthanuravi (ninth century AD) and the Cochin plates of Vijayaragadeva bear eloquent testimony to the fact that the Hindu kings not only tolerated Christianity but granted special concessions to the professors of that faith. (The Hindu View of life, Harper Collins, Delhi 1973, p 41.) On the other hand, Christianity has not accepted other religions within its midst except on its own terms. In the aftermath of the Satanic Verses controversy, Shri Clifford Longley, who advises Prince Charles of the United Kingdom on Islam, said, “The very presence of Muslims in Britain can only he on terms which are acceptable to the majority.” He also said, “Every other religious minority in Britain has eventually found that the only way of securing its position is by compromise.” (The Times, London, July 8, 1989.) Prof. Imtiaz Ahmad, of Jawharlal Nehru University, explains the way minorities should be accommodative. He says, While members of all the minority groups must have a collective right to preserve and practice their own culture and religion, they must also acquaint themselves with and show respect to the culture and traditions of the majority..... Group rights cannot prejudice the enjoyment by all persons of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. Group rights cannot also be used to engage in racial or ethnic discrimination or incitement to hatred of other groups. Nor can group rights be used to challenge the sovereign equality, territorial integrity and political independence of States. (Limit to group claims, The Hindu, Nov 27, 1996.) The Hindus have more than adequately established that they will bend over backwards to accommodate reasonable requests of other religions. The Hindus are justly proud of this record, which cannot by matched by another other surviving religions or philosophies. In contrast, the record of Christianity in this respect is dismal, to say the least. Even when compromises were offered, it is only recently that Christians accepted non-Christians amongst their midst. II The Christian Challenge When Christians went to other lands, they tried to force their own creed on their hosts. Except in India, everywhere else they succeeded. At the time when the Roman Catholic Church celebrated the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in South America, the indigenous people observed it as a day of their own defeat, and the event was commemorated by them as 500 years of shame. Millions of people died in the process of evangelisation of the continent. The figures that are given are in excess of 60 million. Fr George M Soares-Prabhu has discussed this issue in his article “Religion and Communalism: The Christian Dilemma”, published In the book Responding to Communalism:

The Task of Religions and Theology (S Arokiasamy (ed), Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, Anand, 1991). At pages 156-9, he says In their ‘spiritual and temporal’ conquest of the East and West (the Christians) unleashed a reign of violence and destruction unparalleled in human history. Religion fuelled their violence. It fed their racial arrogance, legitimised their insatiable greed, and added to their depredations a ruthless ferocity which only religious fanaticism can give..... It was the deeply religious Spaniards and Portuguese, armed with their Papal Bulls and stirred up by their fanatical friars, who perpetrated the massive genocides which ‘utterly destroyed’ the great cultures of pre-Colombian America and decimated its people. These tragic consequences of religious exclusivism (whether we think of Islam wiping out the flourishing Christian civilisations of Asia Minor and North Africa in the seventh century, or of Christianity on the rampage in Asia, Africa and the Americas in the sixteenth) are much too little remembered. There are many monuments to the six million victims of the holocaust (in my opinion the latest great explosion of Christian violence), and a Pope has prayed at Auschwitz. But few remember and none has yet asked pardon for the millions of Amerindians hounded to their death in the Americans, or the hundreds of thousands of Africans who died horribly in the ‘middle passage’ on their way to cruel and dehumanising slavery, or the hundreds of Indians put to death or condemned to the galleys by the Inquisition at Goa, because they remained loyal to the faith of their fathers. Yet their death has surely lessons for the theologian reflecting on Christians exclusivism in communal India today. He has substantiated this in his foot note 40 on page 157 of the book. Tzvetan Todorov (“Morality of Conquest”, Diogenes 125, 1984, pp 89102) comments: “......we know that the immediate result of that encounter (the first encounter of Europeans with the native inhabitants of the Americas) was an extermination of human beings that had never been seen before and had never been attained afterward, in spite of the efforts made in this regard in the twentieth century.” Enrique Dussel (A History of the Church in Latin America, Grant Rapids, Eerdmans, 1981, p 42) substantiates this. They show how the population of Mexico dropped from nearly 17 millions in 1532 to a little more than 1 million in 1608. The situation was probably worse in Peru where the frightening brutality of Pizarro “not only disrupted the political unity that existed under the Incas, but also undermined the spiritual unity that prevailed.” The destruction of the people and the culture, and the use of religion for the justification, forms the foot note 41. Dussel gives a sophisticated analysis of the clash of cultures which followed the Spanish conquest of America. Its unambiguous result was that “the Hispanic civilisation virtually annihilated the Amerindian civilisations in America. The indigenous political and military organisations were obliterated, and the Amerindian elite and their institutions of education and culture were destroyed. What was left of the Indian community after being decimated in part by epidemics, wars, and inhumane treatment was totally unhinged from the ancient context which the norms and the organisation of the Amerindian cultures provided.

The role of religion in this is hinted at by Dussel in a reference to the ‘temporal messianism’ that was part of the Spanish mentality of the time. The destinies of church and nation were believed to be intertwined, because the nation had been elected by God to be the instrument for the salvation of the world” (p. 38). Much is permitted the elect of God! Fr Soares-Prabhu (p 156) also says, “Joao de Barros, a sixteenth century chronicler of the Portuguese conquests in the East, writes: “The moors and gentiles are outside the law of Jesus Christ-which is the law that every one must keep under pain of damnation and eternal fire. If then the soul be so condemned what right has the body to the privilege of our laws?” (C.B. Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969) p 23.) This is the ultimate logic of religious exclusivism. Who can deny its cogency?” Efforts at looking at the people of South America as fellow human beings were few and far between. Quoting Dussel, Fr Soares Prabhu says further in the footnote 41 as follows: “On the other hand, Christian concern for the human person (most unusual in Empires!) exercised a continual pressure on the Spanish court, compelling it to reflect on the ‘morality of conquest’, and to promulgate in 1542 the ‘New Laws’ which attempted to give the Indians some protection against exploitation. Dominican friars like Antonio de Montesinos and Bartolome de Las Cases vigorously championed the cause of the Indians, and a group of mostly Dominican Bishops who governed dioceses in the northern part of the Empire from 1544-1568 tried to enforce the highly unpopular New Laws at considerable risk, “suffering expulsion from the dioceses, imprisonment, deportation, and even death in behalf of the Indians who were being violently oppressed and exploited by the Spanish colonists” (p. 51). But their efforts were ultimately ineffectual; and it is doubtful how far these represented the missionaries as a whole, “the vast majority” of whom, we are told, “shared the conquerors’ contempt for the ‘heathen’.” (Penny Lernoux, “The Long Path of Puebla”, in John Engleson and Philip Scharper, Puebla and Beyond, New York, Orbis, 1979, p 3.) And wherever attempted, it was frustrated by others who considered anyone who is not a Christian as being unworthy of receiving any protection of law. The normal image of an American Red Indian in the Hollywood cowboy movies has been that of a savage, out for the blood of the white man, who wanted nothing more than peaceful co-existence. Invariably, the Red Indians were projected as the ones that caused problems, and that the white man was on the defensive. The movies continued the missionary programme of attempting to show that the Red Indians deserved what they got. It is only now that the truth is slowly being told, and many of the so-called heroes of the white Americans are no longer considered as such. Jomo Kenyatta once said, “When the European colonisers came to Africa, we had the land and they had the Bible. They asked us to close our eyes and pray. When we opened our eyes we found that they had the land and we had the Bible.” Despite the ravaging, the indigenous people of South America and Africa are in search of their own roots. The problem is that they have very few indigenous scholars, and most of

their records are destroyed. In South America, where the civilisations were destroyed only 400 years ago, there is very little collective memory about their history, their sociology, their politics, etc. All that we see is mute monuments, whose purpose is not always known, and whose grandeur can but reflect the highly advanced civilisation that they truly were. When the missionaries arrived in Hawaii, the first convert to Christianity was the Queen. One of the methods to wean away the people from the culture was to ban all the religious and secular dances. Today, the secular dances have been revived - the religious dances have been lost forever. The type of attacks hat these civilisations have experienced must have been greatly traumatic. It is easy to destroy, and very difficult to create. Another case is that of the great Library of Alexandria. In his book Cosmos (Ballantine Books, 1985, pp 278-9), Shri Carl Sagan narrates its destruction as follows: The last scientist who worked in the Library was a mathematician, astronomer, physicist and the head of the Neoplatonic school of philosophy - an extraordinary range of accomplishments for any individual in any age. Her name was Hypatia. She was born in Alexandria in 370 AD.... The Alexandria of Hypatia’s time - by then long under Roman rule-was a city under grave strain. Slavery had sapped classical civilisation of its vitality. The growing Christian Church was consolidating its power and attempting to eradicate pagan influence and culture. Hypatia stood at the epicentre of these mighty social forces. Cyril, the Archbishop of Alexandria, despised her because of her close friendship with the Roman governor, and because she was a symbol of learning and science, which were largely identified by the early Church with paganism. In great personal danger, she continued to teach and publish, until, in the year 415, on her way to work she was set upon by a fanatical mob of Cyril’s parishioners. They dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes, and, armed with abalone shells, flayed her flesh from her bones. Her remains were burned, her work obliterated, her name forgotten. Cyril was made a saint. The glory of the Alexandria Library is a dim memory. Its last remnants were destroyed soon after Hypatia’s death. It was as if the entire civilisation had undergone some self-inflicted brain surgery, and most of its memories, discoveries, ideas and passions were extinguished irrevocably. The loss was incalculable. In some cases, we know only the tantalising titles of the works that were destroyed. We do know that of the 123 plays of Sophocles in the Library, only seven survived. One of these seven is Oedipus Rex. Similar numbers apply to the works of Aeschylus and Euripides..... Of the physical contents of that glorious Library not a single scroll remains. In modern Alexandria few people have a keep appreciation, much less a detailed knowledge, of the Alexandrian Library or of the great Egyptian civilisation that preceded it for thousands of years...... Hinduism faces serious threats from the aggressive proselytising religion, of which Christianity is one. In his book, Beyond Belief, Sir Vidiadhar Naipaul suggests that conversions “occur when people have no idea of themselves, and have no means of understanding or retrieving their past.... For the new fundamentalists...., the Greatest war was to be made on their own past and everything that linked them to their own earth.... Islam is the most uncompromising kind of imperialism because it seeks as an article of the faith to erase the past.”

On these remarks of Sir Vidiadhar, there was an interesting comment that was received by The Times of India (Sept 15, 1998) from a letter writer, Shri Sumit Paul. Being an advanced research student of Islamic theology and Semitic language, let me explain the background for this. Islam’s aversion to the past should be viewed from the perspective of conversion. Islam aims at destroying the past completely lest it should hark the converts back to the pre-Islam days. There is always a fear of the past which threatens to Jeopardise the very existence of Islam. The “fear of recantation” is more often than not dealt with violent measures. Since conversion is not without its past, Islam tries tooth and nail to expunge all the traces and remnants of the past. Sir Vidiadhar’s and Shri Paul’s comments would apply equally to Christianity. We have seen it happen in so many places, that a pattern is discernible. One way to erase the past is to project it in as despicable way as possible. The people of Northeast India are told that their forefathers were head-hunters, and that it was Christianity that brought civilisation to the region. This propaganda can be exposed in simple terms. The beautiful Manipuri dances, an important part of the Hindu heritage, could not have been a creation of a culturally primitive society. The objective of expunging ‘all the traces and remnants of the past’ has been followed by Francis Xavier. In a letter dated January 27, 1545, he wrote: “When I have finished baptising the people, I order them to destroy the huts in which they keep their idols; and I have them break the statues of their idols into tiny pieces, since they are now Christians. I could never come to an end describing to you the great consolation which fills my soul when I see idols being destroyed by the hands of those who had been idolaters.” (The Letters and Instructions of Francis Xavier, translated and introduced by M. Joseph Constelloe, S.J., Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 1993, pp 1178.) Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar recognised the damage that conversions can cause not only to the people but also to he nation. He said that by joining Islam or Christianity, the Depressed Classes would “not only go out of the Hindu religion, but also go out of the Hindu culture.... Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalise the Depressed Classes.” (The Times of India, July 24, 1936.) It was for this reason that he adopted Buddhism when he decided to leave Hinduism the religion. Conversions also change the outward image of the people. This is part of the exercise of the denial of the past. The eventual objective is to internationalise these external changes, and become alienated from one’s own land and people. In his article “Firm foundations of a fervent faith” (The Examiner, October 17, 1998), Shri Larry Pereira describes the situation in Vasai. He says: How did conversion to Christianity affect the converts? Besides a change in religious affiliation, they also assumed the surnames of the priests who baptised them or the sponsor. Usually the converts of a particular hamlet adopted a common surname. However it must be emphasised that some families retained their original surnames. Most of the other aspects of their life remained the same. However, over the centuries there was a gradual change in the language, dress, diet, houses, occupations etc. among those who interacted with the

Portuguese and the English. Besides, education in the language of the rulers also brought in a degree of ‘Westernisation’. (Larry Pereira. “Firm foundations of a fervent faith”, The Examiner, October 17, 1998.)

III Objections to conversions An Israeli legislator, Shri Nissim Zvili, had sponsored an anti-proselytising bill. The CNN Networks (March 31, 1998, web posted at 23:23 GMT), reported that the move was dropped when ‘representatives of 50 Christian evangelical groups agreed to make an unprecedented joint statement promising not to carry out missionary activity in Israel.’ In the statement, the Christian groups say they ‘rejoice in the presence of the Jewish people in this country of their ancestors’ and agree to avoid ‘activities which.... alienate them from their tradition and community.’ In Russia, a bill entitled “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations” was passed. It gives official status to only the Russian Orthodox Church, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, and discriminates against hundreds of other faiths, including Roman Catholicism and Protestant sects. The bill clamps restrictions on many new religious groups, foreign as well as Russian, that came into existence in the mid- 1980s. (The Indian Express, June 26, 1998.) In India, the anger against conversions is felt not only by the Hindutvavadis, but also by the whole Hindu samaj (society). A Christian activist who writes regularly on Christian issues in both communal and secular media, wrote in one of the former as follows: So what is it that makes missionaries different, I wonder. I asked my Hindu husband and other Hindu friends - educated, perceptive adults - and I was shocked at the anger I uncovered. They just don’t see Christians as Indians; they see us as an alien ‘other’, minions of a white, Christian world that is synonymous with spiritual and racial chauvinism. Our cathedrals, our culture, and our worships set us apart. Poland has shown us that the dividing line between spiritual and political control can be very fine. The red flag, however, is conversion. It rakes up old hurts of a colonial religion that not only cut off a people from their rich spiritual heritage and destroyed their cultural roots, but created pseudo-western Indians that looked down on the ‘natives’ and their ‘superstitious’, ‘idol-worshipping’ religion. (Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, “Martyrdom-The call for the new millennium”, The Examiner, July 18, 1998.) The Hindus that the activist talked to would perhaps not like to be identified as supporters of Hindutva. Moreover, as she says, they are “educated, perceptive adults”. In November 1998, in Nashik the political parties of all shades organised a protest march against conversion. The Christian converts in the tribal areas refused to partake in festivities which have been the tradition of the area. This refusal is part of the programme to wean themselves from the rest of the society. It is time that Christians and their apologists give serious thought to the reaction of the Hindu samaj to conversions. Members of all religions take a serious view of conversions. In response to the activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), there has been an

aggressive reaction from the Christians all over the world. In many ways, the methods followed by ISKCON mimicked the way the missionaries operated. At the same time, it has to be noted that the movement flourished without any state patronage, even from the country of the birth of its founder, Swami Prabhupada. He took his message to the people in the West, and he was accepted for spiritual reasons. It was the American converts who set up the organisation of ISKCON, and they provided the funding. The aggressive nature of the Christian reaction to ISKCON can be gauged by the following advice that was rendered to the parents of children who became attracted to the movement: Parents wishing to extricate their adult offspring from the anti-Christian context’ of an organization like ISKCON can - if they’ve first exhausted all legal options, considered the risks and consulted with their pastor - perform Christian ‘civil disobedience’: disregard whatever laws (for example, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault and battery) stand in the way, and rescue their son or daughter from the clutches of such a false, non-scriptural religion. (The Commission on Organizations: The ‘New Religions’, Brainwashing and Deprogramming, St. Louis: The Commission on Organizations, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, n.d., pp 4-5.) The Christian churches in India have threatened violence against the programme of reconversions launched by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Rev V K Nuh, secretary of the Nagaland Baptist convention, said, “If someone tries to impose their faith, Christians in this region will not surrender. There will be a battle and we shall have no option. There will be a physical and religious war if attempts are made to propagate Hinduism by forceful means in the Northeast.” Rev M D Oaugma, head of the Garo Baptist Convention of Meghalaya said, “It could be a threat to Christianity if we remain silent to the VHP’s game plan of mass conversion. We shall have to fight, we shall have to resist.” (Maharashtra Herald, July 11, 1998.) Some of the aggressive Protestant sects are targeting not only non-Christians but also other Christian sects. During his visit to the Dominican Republic in South America in October 1992, Pope John Paul II said that he must protect his flock from the ‘wolves’ of evangelical Protestantism wooing Latin Americans away from the Roman Catholic Church. As shepherd to Latin America’s 395 million Roman Catholics, the Pope said he must “take care of the sheep who have been put in my care and protect them from rapacious wolves.” (Houston Chronicle, October 13, 1992.) The question to be asked of the Pope is if the Protestant missionaries are wolves in South America, do they not belong to the same category in India? Actually, there is an irony here. The Pope is unhappy not because the Roman Catholics have stopped believing in Christ, but that they are doing it in another church as Protestants and under another set of priests. If the Pope can be unhappy of such a state of affairs, surely the non-Christians have a greater right to be unhappy when their members embrace Christianity. This unhappiness of the Roman Catholics against the activities of the Protestants exists in India as well. Shri John Stackhouse reported as follows: In the tribal belt, many Protestant churches use mass rallies and faith healing to draw potential converts. And there often are promises of education and jobs. “Those Protestants - Methodists, Pentecostals - have been baptising left, right and centre,” said Bishop de Rosario (of Vadodara), who has lost many Roman Catholic villages to the new evangelical missions, which are the fastest-

growing denomination in the adivasi region. “This has created some of the problem.” (Jesus Christ: Persona Non-Grata in India?, Globe and Mail (USA), Nov 5, 1998) There is a clear admission by the Roman Catholics in India that the Protestants, at least, are undertaking conversions by inducements, which has no spiritual merit. These inducements are given in South America, and on a visit to Brazil the Pope expressed his unhappiness. (Pope John Paul II) exhorted his followers to crusade against fundamentalist religious sects that offer what (he) called ‘false mirages’ to growing numbers of Brazilians ‘hungry for bread and justice’...... Brazil’s bishops have reportedly concluded that as many as 600,000 Brazilians leave the Roman Catholic Church each year to join fundamentalist and evangelical Protestant sects, some of which offer mass healing and fund-raising sessions that anger Roman Catholic and Protestant fundamentalists alike. (Alan Cowell, Pope urges Brazilians to resist mirages of evangelists, New York Times, Oct 14, year not known.) Conversions by fraud and inducements are the standard practice all over the world. In Mongolia, Shri Alexander Berzin, a research fellow at Columbia University, New York, said in an interview, The missionaries come in guise of English teachers. They give money, computers to universities, scholarships to children of influential officials. They buy their way in. (Disrupting the faith?, Newsweek, Jan 13, 1997.) Apart from being concerned about Roman Catholics leaving to join the Protestant sects, the present pope, John Paul II, is most unhappy when Christians adopting another religion. In the case of Hinduism and Buddhism, he has written in his book as follows: “(I)t is not inappropriate to caution those Christians who enthusiastically welcome certain ideas originating in the religions of the Far East - for example, techniques and methods of meditation and ascetical practice. In some quarters these have become fashionable, and are accepted rather uncritically. First one should know one’s own spiritual heritage well and consider whether it is right to set it aside lightly.” (Crossing the Threshold of hope, Random House, 1994, pp 89-90.) It would be appropriate to ask the Pope what moral right does he have to ask Hindus and Buddhists to set aside their own even longer spiritual heritage aside lightly and adopt Christianity. Moreover, given the fact that Christians in Christian countries are leaving the religion, it would also be appropriate to ask the Pope to explain to the others the spiritual merit of the system he is advocating. It would also be appropriate to ask the Christians why do they not concentrate on ensuring that their own flock does not desert them instead of trying to entice non-Christians. In the West there is a great deal of disenchantment with Christianity as a spiritual guide. As per a report in a Roman Catholic weekly in India (The Examiner, July 18, 1998), out of the six million Roman Catholics in Austria, only 20% attend church regularly, and 40,000 are leaving the church every year. At this rate, by the year 2030, there will not be any Roman Catholics left in Austria. Another Christian weekly in India (India Currents, June 5-11, 1998) Rev Valson Thampu said that only 7% of the population in the United Kingdom are practising Christians.

The Sunday Times, (London, May 11, 1997) carries a report which says that by the year 2002, the number of Christians attending the Church of England services will be less than the Muslims going to mosques. Presently, only 850,000 Anglicans go to church. Out of a population of more than 50 million this is indeed a low figure. The Times of India (July 27, 1998) carried an item with the heading “Sunday shopping hits Church visits in Europe”. One wonders if the people went to churches only because they had nothing better to do, and not because they received any spiritual sustenance by their act. The report says, “For many Poles, going to the hyper-market or shopping mall is an entertaining way to spend time with the family.”

IV Christianity in India Except perhaps for ISKCON, none of the Hindu sects have a missionary character in the sense that Christianity has. Even ISKCON has moderated its methods of the past. The lack of the missionary character is due to the pluralistic ethos of multiple ways of salvation. Until recently, Hinduism did not have a ceremony which would initiate a non-Hindu into Hinduism. It was invented in the 19th century by Swami Dayanand, as a reaction to the threat of the aggressive proselytising programmes of Islam and Christianity. It is true that the number of temples in the western countries has increased - but so is the case in India, the land of the origin of the Hindus. The temples in the western countries have come up in those places where there is a sizeable Hindu population. It is the initiative of the local people that was responsible for the construction, with the funds being generated by them. At best, priests are taken from India. However, the control of the temple in temporal matters lies with the local Hindus. A large Hindu temple has come up in North London, built by the followers of Swami Narayan, a very popular sect of Hinduism based in Gujarat. The disciples in India offered their shramadan (voluntary service) for some of the construction activity that took place in India. But, this would constitute a small part of the total cost. The devotees in the United Kingdom contributed not only in terms of money, but also, in true Hindu tradition, gave their own labour free of cost. Highly educated professionals took long sabbaticals to spend time at the construction site. Once the temples come up, and the spiritual discourses start, it is likely that some of the non-Hindus begin to study the Hindu philosophy. However, the primary objective of the temples is to cater to the needs of the Hindus, and not conversion. Also, the non-Hindus who come to the temples are those that do so on their own volition, and not due to any inducements or fraud. The Hindu temples do not even pretend to undertake social service activities, or reach out to the poor. Such deeds are done by secular institutes, where the local Hindus participate just as enthusiastically as they participate in the temple activities. People are coming to Hinduism and Buddhism, rather than these two philosophies going to the people. In contrast Christian churches in India are coming up in places where there are no Christians. They are set up by obtaining funds from outside the country. They are used as centres to propagate Christianity and to convert. The social service activities that are part of the churches are also with an objective to convert. The activity has at best an accidental redeeming value, and becomes highly debased.

At an International Conference of Mission Work in Rome, Cardinal Josef Tomko criticised liberation theologians like Paul Knitter, a professor of Theology, for being more occupied with ‘social work’ and-inter-religious dialogue’ than with announcing the Gospel. Shri Sita Ram Goel comments: The answer to this criticism by one truly pluralist was obvious: that announcing the Gospel was redundant, that it was even arrogant, that other people do not need a Christian Gospel and probably many of them have a Gospel of their own as good as the Bible. But Dr Knitter’s answer was different. “We are not saying outreach evangelisation should only consist of action of human welfare but we are saying that working for human welfare, is an essential part of the work.... It is essential to the Gospel of Christ,” he said. Missionary strategist will have no difficulty in agreeing with this view. They already know that ‘social work’ is a great aid to proselytisation. (Catholic Ashrams, Voice of India, 1994, p 181.) Francis Arinze, one of the senior cardinals at the Vatican, confirmed that the primary task of the Roman Catholic Church is to convert. He said recently, Has the Church anything else to do? No. Evangelisation is central to the mission of the Church. The task of evangelising all people constitutes the central mission of the Church. The Church has no other assignment. (Mark Pattison, Primary Mission is to Evangelise, The Examiner, Oct 18, 1997.) This injunction of Cardinal Arinze was faithfully followed by Mother Teresa in her institute called Missionaries of Charity. In his book, The Missionary Position, Shri Christopher Hitchens quoted from a testimony of Susan Shields, who worked for nine and a half years as a member of Mother Teresa’s order. She says: “For Mother (Teresa), it was the spiritual well-being of the poor that mattered most. Material aid was a means of reaching their souls, of showing the poor that God loved them. In the homes for the dying, Mother taught the sisters how to secretly baptize those who were dying. Sisters were to ask each person in danger of death if he wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to pretend she was just cooling the person’s forehead with a wet cloth, while in fact she was baptizing him, saying quietly the necessary words. Secrecy was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s sisters were baptizing Hindus and Moslems.” (Verso, London, p 48.) It is exactly for this reason that Mahatma Gandhi said, If instead of confining themselves purely to humanitarian work such as education, medical services to the poor and the like, they would use these activities of theirs for the purpose of proselytising, I would certainly like them to withdraw. Every nation considers its own faith to be as good as that of any other. Certainly the great faiths held by the people of India are adequate for her people. India stands in no need of conversion from one faith to another. (Foreign Missionaries, Young India, April 23, 1931.) The Mahatma probably guessed that the Christian missionaries would not follow this advice. Very soon after the above statement, he said,

In India under Swaraj I have no doubt that foreign missionaries will be at liberty to do their proselytising, as I would say, in the wrong way; but they would be expected to bear with those who like me, may point out that in their opinion the way is wrong. (Young India, May 7, 1931.) The wrong way that the missionaries follow is not only with respect to the debased social service that is being indulged in. There is a calumny against Hinduism. In 1994, at a conference in Vadodara, Religion and Society in Contemporary India, Shri Nirmal Verma, the eminent Hindi writer, said, The type of abuses which missionaries hurled against the Indian Gods and Goddesses, if you read today, would be outrageous to any Hindu believer. Krishna is lecherous person, Shiva is some demonic force. All sorts of sexual abuses (are hurled) against Kali Durga. (Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, Project Nr 14, 1996, p 60.) This is even more graphically narrated by a journalist, K R Sundar Rajan, in a letter to an English weekly in India, Outlook, March 16, 1998. He wrote: When I was working in a Mumbai newspaper, I noticed a foreign missionary addressing a crowd at Azad Maidan. He was extolling the virtues of Christianity, which was legitimate, but then he went on to dissuade his audience from following Lord Krishna saying that ‘even as a child Krishna stole butter churned by his own mother and later he was surrounded by women of loose morals’. I protested at his remarks at which he asked his aides to throw me out. Not one Hindu in the audience stood for me. I went to lodge a complaint with the police where I was told to put the news in my own paper. I gave the story to may chief reporter who asked me ‘what’s the news in it?’ and did not publish it. Shri Verma has confirmed the reaction of the audience, when he continued the above statement as follows: And can you imagine all those things were completely disregarded by people, by believing Hindus, because they thought that they were absolutely nonsensical. They did not believe that any such outrage is being done to their religion because they themselves mocked in some way their own gods, with their own tremendous reverence and admiration for them. This laid back attitude is born out of the Hindu tolerance and out of a freedom to think for oneself and to criticise where criticism is warranted. It is also the reason for the dynamism that is the hallmark of Hinduism. Mahatma Gandhi said, My belief in the Hindu scriptures does not require me to accept every word and every verse as divinely inspired .... I decline to be bound by any interpretation, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason or moral sense. (Young India, October 6, 1921.) However, instead of admiring this character of the Hindus, it was seen as a sign of weakness. The calumny continues even today. Some, like Pat Robertson, do it crudely. In his daily Christian TV show, The 700 Club, Rev Pat Robertson portrays other religions in poor light. However, he exceeded all limits in his March 23, 1995, programme, when he labelled Hinduism as ‘demonic’ and advocated keeping Hindus out of America. In this episode, details of the Reverend’s conversion of Hindus of Rajamundry in the state of Andhra Pradesh were

shown. His son said, “Wherever you find this type of idolatry, you find a grinding poverty. (India) has been cursed.” (Hinduism Today, July 1995) There was hardly any mention of this incident in the ‘secular’ press in India, and the Christians in this country did not feel at all uncomfortable about the whole incident. Others, like a priest in Mumbai, do it in a more sophisticated manner. Hindu philosophy is basically one that encourages withdrawal from the world to the detriment of social commitment. (Pravrutti-Nivruttin.) Hindu spirituality also fosters individuality at the expense of community. The sadhu is preoccupied with his prayer, asceticism and other spiritual endeavours in order to accumulate spiritual capital for his own salvation. This attitude is also encouraged in the life of the ordinary Hindu who is expected to work for his own individual salvation. As a result there is hardly any communitarian or social consciousness. To be freed from suffering the individual has to go through the whole cycle of rebirth to overcome his karma or fate. The community cannot redeem from this suffering. (Fr Francis D’Britto, Theology of Involvement, The Examiner, May 2, 1998.) When Fr D’Britto says that Hindus have ‘hardly any communitarian or social consciousness’, he ignores the contribution that Hindus make to the various charities, even to the Christian ones. In case of the latter, the Hindus giving their money and time often know that they are involved in conversion activity. People like Fr D’Britto are projected as ones who are ‘experts’ on Hinduism. They study Hinduism not with an intention of understanding it better, but to damn it. This was the objective of the missionary indologists in the past, and it continues to be so today. The fact that such things can happen in a Hindu land is something amazing.

V Liberal Christianity? It has to be admitted that the blatantly vicious attacks on Hinduism are infrequent today. The reason for this has been well expressed by a Christian theologian, Shri Raimundo Pannikar: “The first lesson history makes us aware of is that all our disquisitions are dependent on a temporal factor - that is, on historical circumstances. Were it not for the fact of the political decolonisation of the world, we would not be speaking the way we are today. Dialogue has not sprung out of pure speculation. Praxis conditions theory. Yet it is also wisdom to make a virtue out of necessity.” (The Myth of Christian Uniqueness - Towards a Pluralistic Theology of Religions, John Hick and Paul F Knitter (eds), Orbis Books, New York, 1994, p 96.) This clearly indicates that there is only a change in methods but not of heart. Since the dialogue has not ‘sprung out of pure speculation’, the objective of the dialogue becomes suspect. Pronouncements of senior cardinals make this clear. Cardinal Arinze said. “Interreligious dialogue would be unnecessary if all men believed in Jesus Christ and practiced only the religion which he established.” (“The

Urgency of Dialogue with Non-Christians” in Origins 39/14, Washington (March 14, 1985), pp.641-50.) He has reinforced the same thoughts recently when he said, If Catholics today won souls at the rate that the early Christians did as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Father would very soon have to close down the Pontifical Council of Interreligious Dialogue because there would be nobody left to talk to. (Mark Pattison, “Primary Mission is to Evangelise”, The Examiner, Oct 18, 1997.) Since the Cardinal is the head of the Pontifical Council of Interreligious Dialogue, he would be soon out of a job, a situation that he seems to relish! Cardinal Ratzinger has defined a dialogue thus: “A true dialogue with other faiths should not be a journey into emptiness, but a search for the eternal truth revealed in Jesus.” (Richard Owen, “The man to succeed the Pope?”, The Times, London. Reproduced in The Statesman. Calcutta, April 26, 1997.) The same definition seems to be acceptable to the Protestants as well. At least one of them said: The use of dialogue in reaching people has to be carefully considered .... It must lead to proclaiming Christ as Lord..... The purpose of dialogue should be carefully and constantly borne in mind. It should not simply end in dialogue. (Christian Witness to Hindus, a paper emerging from the historic (sic) Consultation on World Evangelization (COWE) held in Pattaya, Thailand. in June 1980.) When the monarch ascends the throne in England, he/she has to take a oath that he/she will be defender of the faith - namely, that of the Church of England. He/she cannot be the defender of other Christian sects, let alone non-Christian sects. The present crown prince, Prince Charles, said that he would like to change the oath to say that he should be the defender of all faiths. This provoked a very churlish reaction from the Church of England hierarchy. Lord Coggan, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, said, “If (the Prince is) saying Christianity is equal with other religions, we should differ profoundly with him. As men we’re all equal before God, but are you talking about religions and saying one is as good as another? I hope he is not saying that.” (“Charles plans to break royal link with Church”, The Sunday Times, London, June 26, 1994.) The Christians have not given up their claim to have a unique way of salvation. At the same time, apologists, both Christians and non-Christians, spare no effort of trying to project that the Vatican Council II of 1969 has brought in an element of fresh air. To substantiate this claim they use the following quote: The Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrine which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching,

nevertheless, often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. (Vatican Council II, St Paul’s Publications, Bombay, p 654.) This is supposed to have heralded an era away from exclusivist ideology that is the hallmark of proselytising religions. But, there is a qualitative difference between ‘rejects nothing’ and accepts everything, and between a ray of that truth’ and fullness that the Church says exists only in Christianity. The statement also sounds like a certificate being given by the Roman Catholic Church, and one would like to know what has given it the authority! Like in most of the pronouncements with respect to all the other religions, the Roman Catholic Church exhibits a great deal of arrogance. The denial of finding true salvation in other religion is clear when we read the very next sentence to the one quoted above. It says: Yet she proclaims and is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life. (ibid, p 654.) At another place, the document says: Everyone, therefore, ought to be converted to Christ, who is known through the preaching of the Church, and they ought by baptism, become incorporated into him, and into the Church which is his body. (ibid, p 722.) When the deliberations on Vatican Council II were in progress, that there were serious theological differences. The then Pope, John XXIII, is recognised as one who tried to steer the Roman Catholic Church into an era of pluralism. But, the fundamentalists could not stomach even a situation of inclusivism. The above statements are a product of a sort of an uneasy compromise, with each side claiming that its viewpoint was upheld! The whiff of openness that was exhibited by John XXIII vanished with his death. The hard-liners are particularly important under the present Pope. The pronouncements of the Cardinals are in a post-Vatican II era. This does not meant that the double-speak by the Roman Catholic Church has stopped. However, it has created confusion, even amongst the clergy working in Asia. Recently a seminar was organised by the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences), Office of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs. Entitled the First Formation Institute for Inter-religious Affairs (FIRAI), it was held in Malaysia from Sept. 6-14, 1998. Indian Currents (September 21-27, 1998), a Christian publication from Delhi, carried a report entitled “Frustration surfaces at inter religious affairs institute” sent to it by the Christian news agency UCAN. Several participants said that they are confused by the Church’s claim to uniquely possess the full truth alongside its openness to dialogue. For Sister Doreen from Singapore, the Christian duty to proclaim salvation confused her, since in the end “Jesus Christ remains the only source of salvation,” she said. “How do you bring that kind of news to the dialogue table?” she asked. A Malaysian lay woman, said that in the various documents of Pope John Paul II, he says one thing to adherents of other religions, which is unitive of religions, and then says something else to the Christians. She said, “Doesn’t he know that adherents of both religions end up knowing the contents of his contradictory texts anyway?”

Annabelle, another Malaysian, said that “the pope has double standards.” The Church’s continued insistence on the supremacy of Christ shows that its claims of learning from other religions are only words, she said. “I am actually irritated that the Church hasn’t changed,” the lay woman said. Julius, a layman from Manila, also agreed that instead of clarifying dialogue for Roman Catholics, Vatican declarations end up confusing them. “Pronouncements should be universal; one pronouncement for all. As it is, the Church teachings on inter-religious dialogue are very confusing, and that makes dialogue practically impossible,” he noted. Sister Meg from Thailand she said that it was disturbing to be reminded that as late as 1995, Pope John Paul said that all salvation comes through Christ. She said with the pope’s “no salvation without the Church and through Christ claim “it seems we go back to what was proclaimed centuries ago.” Last year, Fr Tissa Balasuriya of Sri Lanka was excommunicated. His crime was that he did not follow the hard dogmatic line as set out by the hierarchy in Vatican. In justifying his position, Fr Balasuriya has used the pronouncement of Vatican II where it says that there is a possibility of salvation in other religions. But, this explanation was rejected and he was reinstated only after he gave an abject letter of apology. The books of an Indian priest, the late Fr Anthony de Mello, are proscribed for saying much of what the Christian apologists have interpreted as the essential message of Vatican II. The way the books have been proscribed has clearly exposed the hypocrisy of the church. The Vatican document giving the judgement is enclosed herewith as Appendix I. The objections to the writing of Fr de Mello makes it very clear that the closed Christian dogma has not been given up. One is reminded of the notorious Inquisition, on which the Church has recently decided to make an inquiry. On conversions, an interesting observation was made by Shri Rudolf Heredia (Humanscape, April 98). A Lecturer in Sociology at the St Xavier’s College, and a frequent writer on theological issues, he observed that the proselytising programme is rejected by “those Christians who have moved beyond the theology of saving souls” and these Christians “see such programme as more political than religious.” The Christian activist quoted earlier on the anger she saw about conversions, made further comments on the subject. She said: The tragedy is that the missionaries who are being targeted are the victims of a Church policy to which they do not subscribe. All they want is to love and serve the poor, and they are willing to pay the ultimate price: their lives. Truly following in the Master’s footsteps. ‘Conversion is not an issue for us,’ says Fr Sopena S.J. ‘All our centres oppose it. It would be immoral and unethical to directly and indirectly try to entice tribals. We concentrate on testimony proclamation by deed. Primarily by our own lives, the way we deal with the tribals, the words we speak.’ Many would be content to make those they work with more committed to God’s revelation in the religion of their birth. Unfortunately, such missionaries are caught between the Truth they experience in their relationship with believers of other religions, and the public image of the Church dictated by authorities, who more often than not live in an isolated, monocultural reality. (Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Martyrdom The call for the new millennium, The Examiner, July 18, 1998.)

But her statement on conversion did not remain unchallenged for long. In fact, given that Christianity believes in an exclusive claim to truth, it could not go unchallenged. Fr Pablo Gil, a colleague of Pr Sopena wrote: I guess Astrid has tried to give the gist of what Fr Sopena said rather than his very words. I happen to know Fr Sopena as my very good friend and old companion whom I highly admire and I am sure that he would calibrate exactly and nuance carefully his statements on an important matter like conversion. But if Sopena said what he is reported to have stated, then I dissociate myself from Sopena in this particular matter... At a personal level, I firmly believe that the greatest gift I can offer a man, Christian or not, is Christ Himself and faith in Him. And I do feel that if, being able to do it, I refrain from doing it I am inflicting a grave injustice on people who are destined to known the Saviour and love Him. And if the Holy Spirit inspires them, who am I to interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit? My duty as a missionary is to receive them with open arms. One of the purest joys for a missionary is to welcome people into the fold of Jesus Christ, when they come sincerely, with no strings attached. Hence the phrase attributed to a dear friend of mine, ‘Conversion is not an issue for us, all our centres oppose it’, sounded to me so alien to the Gospel and so little in consonance with the great work that he and other missionaries are doing today. (Pablo Gil, S.J., True and false conversions, The Examiner, August 22, 1998.) Fr Sopena confirmed this opinion, when he said, I sense (Fr Pablo Gil) thinking: ‘What if my friend has lost touch with his spiritual roots, what if is swayed by the winds of secular development and has lost sight of the ultimate goal of all true, full, human development? What if he does not preach the Gospel to every creature, as a missionary is expected to do?’ These are genuine concerns which keep us worried and make us take the person we love to the Lord in prayer. For wouldn’t it be a matter of the greatest regret if the faith which has give meaning to one’s own life were to be become blurred, dim at the end? I understand Pablo’s concern.... Astrid’s article makes reference to opinions expressed by me in the course of an informal conversation within a very definite and precise context. (Of friends and tribals, The Examiner, September 12, 1998.)

VI Christianity and the Brahmins One of the standard church propaganda is that Hinduism is nothing more than what they call Brahminism. Their objective is to assert that the ills that exist in Hinduism are a creation of the supposedly elitist Brahmins to keep the people suppressed. (Perhaps the church hierarchy is projecting its own method on others!) They have tried to project that the Brahmins are evil and it is in the interest of the rest of the society to get out of their clutches. And the only way to do it would be to leave Hinduism and join Christianity. The respect that Brahmins, in general, had (and still have) in the Hindu society is a matter for a separate subject. At the same time, there is no need to deny that there have been some Brahmins who have not fulfilled their dharma to the society. Suffice to say here that most of the great reform movements have been led by Brahmins. Not only in the spiritual field, but also in the social field, Brahmins have been prominent amongst the reformers.

The fact that the initial approach of the Christian missionaries was to convert the Brahmins exposes their game plan. It has been the standard practice of Christianity all over the world to first convert the influential people, so that they become their ambassadors to the rest of the society. The first successful experience was in the case of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. (The political objective of this Emperor in adopting Christianity has been well documented.) With the power of the state behind it, terrorising the people to accept Christianity was an easy task. This was then used to set up an organisation to control the spiritual lives of the people, while helping the Emperor to control them politically. The Brahmins turned out to be people with a different mettle. Since they were not interested in temporal power, they had no need to involve politics in spiritual matters. They saw that there was a lack of spirituality in the Christian ideology. Being highly respected, the example of the Brahmins was emulated and the rest of the community concluded that if Christianity has no merit for the Brahmins, it has no merit for the rest of the society. Many Christian researchers have documented the cause of the antipathy of the missionaries towards the Brahmins. Elizabeth Susan Alexander wrote, “For the missionaries Brahmans (sic) had been in the forefront of the staunch Hindu opposition to missionary endeavours in Madras Presidency. They had also been the vanguard of the Indian nationalist movement that had taken alarmingly extremist turns.” (The Attitudes of British Protestant Missionaries Towards Nationalism in India, Konark Publishers, Delhi, 1994, p 67.) Only when they could not make a dent with the Brahmins that the missionaries turned to the lower castes. The conversions were obtained through inducements and not through any spiritual conviction. They were somewhat successful only when the temporal power was with the invading Christians and the area was effectively a colony. The missionaries could project themselves to be the benefactors of the lower castes, and ensure that government largesse would flow to them. That it did nothing for them in terms of social upward mobility is clear from the fact that there is a class of dalit Christians. A few of the Christian missionaries did have some success with the Brahmins. But, the change took place for secular reasons. This was also the experience in Europe. As Judaism was strongly fought and persecuted (by the Roman Catholic Church) in a large part of Europe, many Jews tried to defend themselves by embracing the religion of the country where they lived, and in this way to keep their property and prosper in business. (Jorge de Abreu Noronha, A New Dimension to the Inquisition, Goa Today, Dec 94.) It was only when a Brahmin converted to Christianity, would he be employed in the government services. It was only when a member of the higher caste converted to Christianity, would he be permitted to continue with his profitable economic activity. But the success rate in such cases was small, and the rest of the community did not emulate their example. If anything, the converts were treated as outcastes at the social level, and endured more than accepted. Some of the Christian missionaries noticed that the whole community held the Brahmins in high esteem in spiritual matters. So they decided to pretend to be Brahmins to attract the people to come to them. The classic example was that of Robert de Nobili, a Jesuit from France, who came to India in the early 17th century. He adopted the saffron robe, started

to live in a hut, squatted on the floor for conducting his discourses, became a vegetarian and gave up liquor, projected that he was a Brahmin from Rome and that the Bible was one of the lost vedas, and generally tried to pass himself as another Hindu sanyasi. He was successful, and many Hindus came to him for spiritual reasons. But, de Nobili’s objective was not to merge himself with the Hindu culture or civilisation. M N Pearson wrote: The career of the well-born Italian Jesuit Roberto de Nobili seems to illustrate this change, this decline in cold hard certainty. He is well known for trying to convert Brahmins by using their own arguments. To this end he studied Sanskrit texts, and dressed as a Brahmin. While this may be admirable, as an example of tolerance and open inquiry, it should be remembered first that de Nobili’s aim was still, and always, to make converts, and second that his methods got him into hot water with his superiors. (The Portuguese in India, Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 1990, p 123.) The same was also the conclusion arrived at by Abbe Dubois, whom we have encountered earlier. The following comment is relevant: (T)he chief cause (of Abbe Dubois’ disillusionment with the lack of success of his missionary effort) undoubtedly was the invincible barrier of what we may call nowadays intellectual Hinduism, but which the Abbe called Brahmanical prejudice. He refers regretfully to the collapse of the Church, with its hundreds of thousands of converts, many of them of high caste, established by the Jesuits Beschi and de Nobili in Madura; but at the same time he made no concealment of the real causes of their failure. ‘The Hindus soon found that those missionaries whom their Colour, their talents, and other qualities had induced them to regard as such extraordinary beings, as men coming from another world, were in fact nothing else but disguised Feringhis (Europeans), and that their country, their religion, and original education were the same as those of the evil, the contemptible Feringhis who had of late invaded their country. This event proved the last blow to the interests of the Christian religion. No more conversions were made. Apostasy became almost general in several quarters, and Christianity became more and more an object of contempt and aversion in proportion as European manners became better known to the Hindus.’ (Editor’s Introduction, Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, Abbe Dubois, Translated and Edited by Henry K Beauchamp, Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 1994, p xxvii.) In spite of being exposed for the fraud that he was, de Nobili held as an icon of the socalled inculturation programme of the Christian churches. An English current affairs magazine, The Week (Oct 20, 1996), came out with a cover story on the subject of what are called Roman Catholic Ashrams. I corresponded with one of the proponent of the programme, a Spaniard priest who has adopted Shilananda as his name, and asked him if he thought that there is salvation outside Christianity. In reply I was told that I should repent and believe in Christ. The present practitioners of inculturation are carrying forward the tradition set by de Nobili of pretending to be a Brahmin. While in a rural setting one sees Roman Catholic Ashrams, in urban areas Christianity is conducted in pomp and style. In The Week article, a priest in Mumbai, Fr Myron Pereira, is quoted as saying “(The Ashram) makes sense where Fr Shilananda lives, but not in Mumbai where I live. If all I Catholic priests were to adopt the ashram life-style, it would pose practical

and emotional problems in big cities.” (Emphasis added) The objective of the Roman Catholic Ashrams is to try and fool the simple rural folks. This Ashram programme will not succeed in urban areas where people are more aware of what Christianity is all about. In his objection to conversions of the poor people, Mahatma Gandhi challenged the missionaries to convert him first. Of course, they knew that Gandhiji had made a detailed study of Christianity and there was no possibility that he could be sold the system. Similar was the case with the Brahmins in the past. It is very unfortunate that the whole concept of the evil Brahmin, propagated by the Christian missionaries for their own sinister objective, is being authenticated by the so-called intellectuals in this country. Great Hindu reformers, including Swami Vivekanand and Mahatma Gandhi, have recognised the role of the Brahmins in the preservation and propagation of the Hindu culture. Some of the greatest of the Hindu reformers have been, and are, Brahmins. Their contribution to the society in all fields is legendary. As said earlier, it is not our contention that the Hindu society has no faults. Blame for this state of affairs has to be with some Brahmins. But to damn the whole class is doing grave injustice. The missionaries had to project the Brahmins as evil because they were the ones who were coming in the way of their proselytisation programme. Today, it suits certain people to damn the community for their petty political games. But, if they were truly evil, would not there have been large conversions of the backward castes to both Christianity and Islam? After all, the clergy of both these systems had the power of the state in many places in India. If the Brahmins were the cause of the miseries faced by the lower castes, the latter would have willingly adopted another system to escape the ‘tyranny’.

VII Dialogue In today’s intellectual environment, a question that comes to the fore is why there cannot be a dialogue on the contentious issues. The main reason is that for the Christians the dialogue is not with an objective to understand others but as a means to convince the other side that Christ is the only Son of God. We have quoted various members of hierarchy attesting to this. Secondly, the dialogues so far have dealt with the issues that are supposed to be common between Hinduism and Christianity. Differences are swept under the carpet. But it is because of the differences that a dialogue is needed. Efforts have been made in the past and each of them has failed. The experience of two dialogues with the activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and one with a critical supporter of the Hindutva ideology will be narrated here. The first is an exposition of the RSS view on the relevance of Christianity in India, given through a lecture by Shri Shripaty Sastry, a senior RSS office bearer, in July 1983. The occasion was a seminar organised by the De Nobili College in Pune, which is one of the Roman Catholic seminaries in India. The event happened some time ago. Yet it is important for the issues that we are discussing today, and it is reproduced as Appendix II. Here we would like to reproduce a part of the letter that was sent as an acknowledgement to a copy of the booklet to the organisers of the seminar: ........... His (Shripaty Sastry’s) was one of the most interesting and thought provoking talks to the student participants of the Seminar. His openness

and frankness were highly appreciated by all the staff and students at Jnanadeepa Vidyapeeth. I hope this cordial invitation of ours to an active RSS man to share his views on Christianity with us will be the first step towards an open and fraternal dialogue between Christians and RSS in India. I am sure such a dialogue will greatly enable us to work for the betterment of people and for promoting justice and peace in our country. With warm regards to RSS friends, Yours sincerely, Sd/- J. Felix Raj, S.J., Chairman, (Seminar Organising Committee) (Shripaty Sastry, A Retrospect - Christianity in India: An exposition of the RSS view of the Relevance of Christianity in India Today, Bharatiya Vichar Sadhana, Pune, 1983.) The dialogue with the critical supporter of the Hindutva ideology was the one with Shri Arun Shourie, a prominent writer on the current affairs in India. This was also based on a talk given by him in January 1994 at the same seminary where Shri Sastry spoke in 1983. The occasion was almost identical to the one Shri Sastry in 1983. Shri Shourie developed on the theme of his lecture, and came out with a book entitled The Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas. The reaction to Shri Shourie’s talk was also mentioned in the same book, and we would like to quote from it: “It has been a feast,” said Dr. P. Ramachandran, formerly of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who had been presiding over the session, as he wound up the exchange. As we dispersed for tea the exchange continued, as did the banter: “He knows more about Christianity than your students,” Archbishop Mathias of Bangalore told Bishop Valerian D’Souza of Pune, teasing him and me. “He knows more about Christianity,” said the latter who oversees one of the best seminaries in our country, “than many of our professors!”........ The things I had been saying were hardly the things that the Archbishop, the Bishops and the scholars assembled there agreed with, they were certainly not the things that they would find agreeable. But, as I recalled at the beginning, they heard me out in pin-drop silence, and with unbroken patience. They told me unambiguously that they did not agree with what I had said. Several of their observations left no doubt that they were put out but by what I had said. But they pasted no motive. They were courteous and the very models of dignity and decorum throughout. I left feeling I had been among friends. If only we could learn at least this one thing from them: if we could only learn how to disagree. How much better off our country would be. (Arun Shourie, Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas, ASA Publications, 1994, pp 241-2.)

Both the lectures were hard hitting. Both the lectures evoked very similar responses at the time of the presentation. While the booklet by Shri Sastry did not create any excitement, the book by Shri Shourie caused a pandemonium. Shri Sastry’s booklet could be safely ignored - the book by Shri Shourie could not be. The latter is well known not only in India, but also abroad. Being a book, the research based on which the arguments are presented by Shri Shourie is well documented and irrefutable. The only way to counteract the presentation was to create a diversion. The Hindu Vivek Kendra has come out with a booklet on the reaction to Shri Shourie’s book. The whole study is quite relevant to the subject under discussion, and it is included as Appendix III. It is to be noted that this programme of creating the diversion was not only by the Christian clergy and lay writers, but also the Hindus who go under the rubric secularists. One of the point that Shri Shourie makes is about the continuity of the calumny against Hinduism. What Shri Sastry said in 1983 confirms this trend. The programme still continues, as can be seen in the writing of Fr D’Britto quoted above. It is quite obvious that no matter how much effort the Hindus make to present their side of the picture, it will always be ignored. The Christians just cannot afford to look at it from a purely intellectual angle. After all, if one starts with the belief that one has a unique way of salvation which is valid for all mankind, anything that disturbs this assumption has to be ignored. The existence of Christianity is at stake! The third example that we would like to mention is a dialogue in which I was involved. In June 94, we had presented the booklet by Shri Sastry to the then vice-president of the All India Catholic Union (AICU), which claims to be the umbrella body for the Roman Catholic laity organisations in India. After going through it, he contacted us saying that the parameters of Hindutva set out by Shri Sastry should pose no problem to Christians in India. He requested a dialogue on the subject with a group of Christians. We welcomed the suggestion, and organised our own group of activists from various Sangh organisations in Mumbai. The fast meeting was held on August 20, 1994. We explained in details what is the Sangh concept of Hindutva and its significance in the civilisational terms. We dwelt extensively on the sociopolitical issues of Hindutva and its relevance to the religious minorities in India. We studied the anti-Hindutva material that were given to us and gave our responses to the same. At one of the meetings we asked why were they giving us the anti-Hindutva material when they accept the Sangh concept of Hindutva. The mindset of the Christian group was to look at the issues in electoral terms. They said that while they accept the Sangh viewpoint, they are not sure whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will implement it. We said that the Sangh does not proclaim that it is only the BJP that is competent to implement its programme. However, while the BJP says that it is close to the Sangh ideology, others make propaganda of objecting to it. We said we have no problem of supporting the Christian group, if it takes upon itself to propagate Hindutva, and will work along with it for its implementation in our society. Very soon we realised that what we were having was not a real dialogue. Questions were posed to the Hindus and answers were expected. Concomitantly, the Christian group did not feel obliged to answer the questions posed to them. Except for a couple of the members, the rest of the group often did not read the material that we gave them, and we had to spend the time in the meetings to explain to them the salient points. Very often they would disagree with us, but would never tell us why. And they would never tell us what would be the right thing to do. A mere statement that we were wrong seemed sufficient to them.

We had nine meetings spread over a sixteen-month period, the last one on February 12, 1996. Each meeting would last about four hours, and the gap between two would be about two months. The whole effort started to fizzle out when we came across an article written by one of the vocal members of the group in a Christian magazine in June 95. We gave a detailed response to it, and send it to them for a counter-response. In the introduction to the response, we said, “When I read the article, the first thought that came to my mind is how the article would have been any different before (the author of the article) started this dialogue.” The whole attitude of the Christian group was one that the Germans call vorbeireden, talking past the point. It is a verbose device to circumvent the truth. The response that we made was dismissed off hand, and no effort was made by the Christian group to even address the issues that we raised. It would appear that we were trying to wake up people who are pretending to sleep. The article written by the Christian and our response to it is enclosed as Appendix IV. The whole text needs to be read to understand the perversion that even the Christian laity is indulging in. The real intent of this group was confirmed to us when the person who had written the article addressed a meeting of Christians in Mumbai on October 13, 1998, about the alleged assaults on Christians. He quoted from an article written by a person associated with our group, but not a part of the dialogue team. The objective was to pervert the Sangh and present it in an evil light. He only succeeded in exposing his own mischief and that of his group. The quote read out by him was as follows: When we consider the Muslim and the Christian problem, three different solutions appear before us. They are 1) to massacre them 2) to drive them out of the country 3) to convert them all to Hinduism by an act of Parliament. These methods appeal to different people in different ways. They cite the examples of Bosnia or some countries in Africa where ethnic cleansing was sought to be effected by violence and massacres. (Ramesh Patange, “Sangh Parivar and the Non-Hindus”, Hindu Vivek Kendra, Mumbai, p 6.) What he did not quote were the lines that immediately followed: People who want these types of methods in, our country are negligible. Massacres are totally alien to the temper of Hinduism. Violence and bloodshed do not fit in the Hindu religious outlook which sees God in every living being. We cannot therefore even think of the brutal methods mentioned above. (ibid, p 7.) This episode has also revealed the arrogance of the person because he thought he could get away with it. We wrote a letter to all the Christian participants of the dialogue, exposing their colleague. As expected, we have not received any response from them. Many of the members of the Christian group are active in the campaign of calumnising the Sangh.

VIII Politicisation of issues

The way the Christians politicise issues is also exposed in the way they have handled the issue of the so-called dalit Christians. They are seeking to get the facility of reservation in jobs and education similar to ones that are available to the Hindu dalits. We posed the following four points to the Christians and to the so-called secular press in this demand for reservations: 1. In an editorial in The Examiner (“matters of Concern”, June 18, 1994), it was said: “The majority of Catholics in India have always been poor, and have been kept at a distance by their better-off co-religionists. Since a few years ago, they have been designated as Dalits, thus emphasising and perpetuating a shameful caste distinction.... They are considered as members of an inferior Church.... To agitate for their being included in the list of Scheduled Castes, as the All India Catholic Union (a laity organisation) and the Catholic Bishops Conference of India have promised to do, for the sake of economic aid, is no service to them. It is only deepening the stigma of inferiority that will mark them for generations. Instead, if a massive effort is mounted to educate them and provide for their social needs, we would only be working out our mission as Christians.” There needs to be a statement why the above sentiments are no longer valid. 2. The Dalits were converted to Christianity on the basis that they would be no longer treated as such in their new religion. However, the practice continued and therefore would it not be right to say that the conversions were made on the basis of false promises? 3. What is being done about discrimination of the Dalits within the various churches, where there are separate entrances, separate seating and separate graveyards for the Dalits? 4. Large sums of money are being sought by various Christian missionaries all over the world for the purpose of converting Hindus. Is it not desirable to use this money to first uplift the Dalits and make them economically sustainable? In the scheme of vorbeireden, such awkward questions are best left unanswered. But the campaign for the demand of special benefits to be given by the government continues. As usual, most of the so-called secular English press and the intellectuals are on the side of the Christians in this case. There seems to be a sustained campaign of ensuring that debates do not take place at the intellectual level, particularly where Hinduism is involved. Another issue of politicisation is the opposition to the nuclear tests. A joint statement by various churches and secular bodies was issued criticising the tests on moral grounds. At the same time, this statement congratulated the scientists for their brilliant technical performance! The statement was silent on the fact that the first four nuclear powers are all Christian countries, and did not mention about the efforts made by the same churches to get them to disband their arsenal. The silence of the churches when France conducted tests just prior to signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is deafening. This statement and other similar pronouncements were clearly against the BJP and not the tests. Old issues, long settled, are raked up again and again. An example is the forged letter written in the name of Shri Padmanabh Acharya, the BJP co-ordinator for the Northeast. This had first surfaced in Assam in the late 1980s, and the fact that it was a forgery was conclusively established then. The Christian group that had a dialogue with us gave a copy for our comments. In January 1995, we gave the reasons why the whole thing is a forgery, and said, “After having come in contact with us for a considerable period, the AICU should not be so gullible as to believe such material deliberately planted.”

In March 1998, at the time of the general elections, this letter makes the round of Delhi once again. We understand that the mastermind behind this is one of the national secretaries of the AICU. (He was not a member of the Christian group in the dialogue that we had.) He is the same person who piloted the statement condemning the nuclear tests and is also prominent in politicisation the issue of the attacks on Christians. A national English weekly, Outlook (June 22, 1998), in an article on the alleged targeting of the Christians, mentioned this forged letter. This confirms the collaboration of the Christian lobbyists and the so-called secular media. In contrast, the issue of changes in the Christian Marriages Act has not received a fraction of the recognition that these political issues have. The present act as applicable to the Christians in this country is against the interest of the woman, and does not meet any of the criteria of normal humanistic principles. A man can divorce his wife by proving adultery on part of the latter. For a woman to seek a divorce on the same ground, she has to prove an additional charge like desertion, mental or physical cruelty, etc. The daughters have very little rights in terms of inheritance, and the wife even less so. There is no provision for adoption by Christians, and the adults at best become guardians. This creates problem in issues relating to inheritance. In a three-part article in The Examiner starting in issue dated October 11, 1997, Smt Rita Monterio (“Gender justice in Christian personal law”) gave a detailed exposition about the whole process of bringing about the changes. A group of concerned Christians of all sects came together and made a detailed proposal about the desirable changes. They even gave a draft bill to the government in February 94. This group had discussions with the various churches, and was able to convince them about the desirability of the changes. When the issue came up in the Parliament in March 1996, the then Law Minister said, “As the policy of the government has been not to interfere in the personal laws of the minority community, unless the initiative came from the community concerned, the government has requested the National Commission for Minorities to assess the views of the Christian community by interacting with different sections of it, before the matter is processed further. Hence, it is too early to set any time-frame for undertaking any legislation in this regard.” Smt Monterio lamented, “Thus, in one fell swoop, the Government obliterated the concerted efforts of the Christian community leaders who had worked for four years through peaceful dialogue to arrive at unanimity among themselves in support of reform of the Christian personal law.” The issue of changes in the personal laws finds no mention in the discourse either by the Christian laity or by the so-called secularists. They have not organised any protest marches or held any well-publicised programme on it. While this issue has merit for politicisation, all the groups are conspicuously silent. The reason for the inaction of the ‘secular’ governments is obvious - changes in the Christian laws will automatically trigger a demand for changes in the Muslim laws. This is something to be avoided at all costs, since that is what secularism means in India. The Christian hierarchy and laity are permitting themselves to be pawns in this game of vote bank politics.

IX

Missionary social service A common argument made for justifying the missionary activity is the so-called social service that they do. As said earlier, this is only done to fulfil the ultimate objective, namely to convert people to Christianity. Hence the service becomes highly debased. However, an argument is made that something is better than nothing, and conversions in such cases must be tolerated. The so-called secular Hindus would say that if organisations like the Missionaries of Charity give succour to the old in their dying days, it really does not matter if they convert. The use of social service as a means of proselytisation is one of the major tool used in the Vanvasi (Tribal) areas of India. This has been documented by many Christian writers themselves. One such person is Shri Verrier Elwin, who started as a missionary for Christianity, but got disillusioned with their methods. He came to India in the early 1930s, and lived with the Vanvasis for most of the rest of his life. Based on Shri Elwin’s papers available at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in Delhi, Shri Ramchandra Guha writes as follows: While (Shri Elwin) was away, the Catholics had been making steady progress among the Gods. There were now 35 Dutch priests in the district working with a large body of Christian clerks and teachers brought from Ranchi in Bihar, an old centre of missionary work among tribals. Their activities expanded enormously in the war years, helped by massive, if covert, government funding. To his horror, Elwin counted more than 100 schools run by the Catholics: schools that bore ‘little resemblance to educational institutions’ but were ‘simply centres of proselytisation.’ (Savaging the Civilised, Economic and Political Weekly, Special Number, Sept 1996, p 2386.) In one of his comments on the missionary activity, Mahatma Gandhi said: “In my opinion Christian missionaries have done good to us indirectly.... The great educational and curative institutes of Christian missions I also count among indirect results, because they have been established, not for their own sakes, but as an aid to proselytising.” (Collective Works, Vol 29, New Delhi, 1968, p. 326.) Most of the institutes set up by the missionaries came up during the colonial times. There is sufficient evidence available to show that they were encouraged by the colonialists to ‘soften’ the nationalistic spirit so that the country can be ruled more easily. The funding provided, both the capital and the running expenditure, was from the resources of this country, and not from that of the colonial masters. In this environment the Hindu organisations were actively discouraged from setting up parallel institutes. It was not the spirit that was lacking amongst the Hindus. In the post-colonial system, the structure of funding to the missionary institutes was kept largely intact. The difference now is that the Hindus have been able to show that they are equally concerned about the needs of the society. However, while the missionary institutes are identified by their religious identity, the same is not done in case of the institutes funded and managed by the Hindus. That the Hindus are ahead of the missionaries can be seen with respect to the situation in Goa. Out of the thirty-odd colleges in the state about 15% are managed by the missionaries. Another issue that has to be mentioned is that much of the social service activity should normally be within the domain of the state. Various governments, who have been seeking votes

on the basis of being benefactors and protectors of the religious minorities, have also sought to raise taxes for such activities. Many of these governments have done precious little for doing proper research on the Hindu civilisation and culture. They continued the colonial programmes of denigrating Hinduism, and they were aided by the so-called themselves intellectuals. One such person says that there is nothing called Hinduism in our tradition, and the cultural unity is the creation of the last two hundred years. The, fact that, for example, the literacy rate of the country is around 50% has nothing to do with Hinduism, but is a failure of the programmes of the governments, who had little empathy towards Hinduism. Education and other social service institutes are also run by the avowedly Hindu organisations like the Sangh Parivar as well. The problem with the so-called secularists is that they do not make the effort to find out what is happening at the ground level, and swallow the missionary propaganda that they have the monopoly over the social service activity, debased or not. The Sangh, through very little state support, has built up large presence in the area of social service. To give one example, the institutes that come under the fold of Vidya Bharati, a Sangh affiliate working in the field of education, have over 17 lakh students and 74,000 teachers. This does not include institutes run by other Hindu organisations like Ramkrishna Mission, Arya Samaj, etc. It also does not include institutes run by large philanthropies, like the various industrial groups in this country.

X Vandalism and apology

The history of Christianity is full of instances of vandalism committed in the name of the religion. Sir Vidiadhar Naipaul and Shri Sumit Paul, above, has given a rationale for this happening - namely an attempt to erase one’s past. There was a physical vandalism in teems of destroying indigenous places of worship, killing those who come in the way, etc, to terrorise the people to do the bidding of their new masters. There was also psychological vandalism in terms of destroying the culture of the converted people, perverting the true meaning of the civilisational idioms and symbols, distorting the history of the land, etc. The relationship between Jews and Christianity has been one of continual animosity. The primary reason has been the propaganda that it was due to the Jews that Christ was nailed to the cross. Christ’s teachings were supposed to have weakened Judaism and so he became the ‘enemy’ of the Jews. There have been numerous cases of discrimination against the Jews in various countries. The climax was the German Holocaust. The silence of Vatican in not condemning the atrocities at the time they were perpetuated has been a major bone of contention. In the recent past, various Popes and other members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy have offered apologies of different levels of contrition. The Vatican has come out with a document on the subject, and the French Archbishop Oliver de Berranger said, “We beg God’s pardon and we ask the Jewish people to hear our words of repentance.” (Newsweek, October 13, 1997.) Similarly, in January 1995, the German Roman Catholic bishops have accepted that the Catholics share responsibility for the Nazi holocaust, since they failed to act against Nazism. In what is said to be an unusually blunt confession of guilt, the bishops said, “The denial and guilt

that was prevalent in those days also came from the church. During the period of the Third Reich, Christians did not carry out the required resistance to racist anti-Semitism.” As per a leading Catholic theologian, Shri Johann-Baptist Metz, there was a “a new quality” in the statement, and predicted that it would inspire “Christian moral courage.” (Stephen Kinzer, “German church admits to holocaust guilt”, The Times of India, Jan 30, 1995.) The indigenous people of South America have started to voice their protests against the atrocities of the past. Such action has forced the Roman Catholic Church to acknowledge the wilful destruction that took place in the name of Christianity, and has sought an apology form the people. During his visit to the continent in October 1992, Pope John Paul II called upon the Indians of the Dominican Republic “to forgive those who, for 500 years, brought pain and suffering” to the Indian peoples. (CIMI - Indianist missionary Council, Brasilia, October 15, 1992.) During a visit to Slovakia in Eastern Europe in July 1995, the Pope visited Presov, where there is a monument to 24 Calvinists, who were beheaded in 1687 for refusing to convert to Roman Catholicism’ In atoning the Roman Catholic Church’s action to condemn them to death, the Pope’s official spokesman said that the visit was meant to ‘render justice and heal old wounds’. (The Times of India, Editorial, July 15, 1997.) However, when it comes to the Hindus, the sentiments shown is exactly the opposite. In a letter dated June 10, 1994, to both the Roman Catholic Archbishops of Delhi and Mumbai, the President of the VHP, Shri Vishnu Hari Dalmia, wrote: “It will be in the fitness of things if the Church in India recognises its unsavoury role in the past and while admitting the same, assures the population of India that it will desist from such prejudicial activities in all parts of the country. Such a proclamation from the Church will not only pave the way for amity between these two great religions, but will also set an example for other religionists to emulate.” A reminder was sent on August 5 to both the persons. The secretary of the Archbishop of Mumbai merely acknowledged the receipt of the letter. The Archbishop of Delhi was in a combative mood that often reflects the thinking of the hierarchy in India. He wrote in a letter dated October 3, “I don’t think any useful purpose will be served by going backwards into the past and especially trying to point out mistakes committed by various communities and members of the various religions who are living together in harmony in India. Our country has the unique record of harbouring the world’s greatest religions whose followers, by and large, live together in peace, in tolerance. We Indians should do our best to preserve this heritage which in my belief is a great gift of God.” On October 14, Shri Dalmia wrote: “In recognising the past, the intention is to inform the present generation of the history as it is. It will also be a beacon for the manner of the interaction for nowadays. Just like the Germans and the others of today are not being blamed for the crimes of the Nazis, the apology that has been tendered is a clear indication that they do not associate with the philosophy of the Nazis. This is the way for living together in harmony in India. I would very much like to have your views on the points that I have raised.” This is where the correspondence rests - that is, there is no need to engage in a sincere dialogue. Subsequently the VHP pointed out the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church in apologising to the Jews and the South American Indians, while refusing to even consider a similar act towards the Hindus. The office of the Archbishop of Mumbai said, “It is categorically denied that prejudicial activities were resorted by Roman Catholic missionaries in the centuries gone by nor has Dalmia made mention of a single such instance.” (The Indian Express, April 24, 1996, “Negation of history is the best way to frustrate a dialogue”)

XI Christians in India Today In the ultimate analysis, the Hindutvavadis would like to state on what basis do they think that the Christians can co-exist with the Hindus in India. More than 95% of the Christians in this country are converts from Hinduism. They have the same biological ancestors as the Hindus. In the central ethos of Hinduism (Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudda Vadanti), people are free to choose their own method of salvation. Time and again Hindus have proved that non-Hindus can live honourably in their midst. Some have assimilated both culturally and spiritually. Some have assimilated culturally, but have kept their own religion. The Hindus have no objection. The Christians and the Muslims have not assimilated culturally. The Christians should accept that the Hindu’s way of salvation is as valid as the way through Christ, and that salvation is possible in other faiths as well. There has to be a formal break from the ambiguity and double-speak of the Vatican and the Indian hierarchy. I recognise that this would go against the central ethos of Christianity as propagated by the churches. But, is exclusivism a rational position? Does it not lead to social tensions? A senior RSS leader was once asked by a Christian, “Since you believe in Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava, why are you against conversion?” The reply was, “Since you do not believe in Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava, I am against conversions.” Only when there is reciprocity can there be communal harmony. It is for the Christians to make the appropriate moves. The Hindutvavadis would like a judicial regulation of conversion. Much propaganda is made that the Constitution of India permits conversion. This is a travesty. The Constitution gives freedom to propagate one’s religion. But no right can be absolute, and this freedom is subject to ‘public order, morality, health and other essential provisions’. Hence, this right cannot impinge on the duty towards the society. This matter has also been settled in the Supreme Court as far as back as 1977, when the challenge to the Madhya Pradesh bill to regulate conversion was dismissed. That conversions create social tension has been explained in details in Chapter III. Christians are also concerned when a member of one Christian sect defects to another Christian sect, let alone to a non-Christian sect. Conversions cause alienation. While the Parsees have assimilated in the society, and followed the requests made by the King of Sanjan, Jadi Rana, the situation in Vasai as explained in the article by Larry Pereira (Chapter II) is exactly the opposite. Every country and civilisation has its own symbols, and their maintenance is important for the cultural unity. The Hindutvavadis would like the foreign missionaries to leave this country. This is not a new demand, but a very old one. Mahatma Gandhi and some Christians were also of the same view. The foreign missionaries have their own agenda in addition to conversions. They want the people to forget their culture and civilisation. They want to have total control over the church apparatus, and wish to maintain their power. In the process, the local development of the church does not take place. The foreign funding of Christian activities in this country should be stopped. The funds come here with conditions, and so make the Indian institutes subservient to the needs of the

paymasters. This is particularly important to increase the confidence about the true intent of the Christian activities in this country, given that the past has been so bitter. The Christian churches in India must make it very clear that their loyalty lies with this country. This fear is not unfounded. The present Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Shri Tony Blair, is an Anglican while his wife is a Roman Catholic. The children are raised up as Roman Catholics. Even while attending the mass of the Church of England, he used to often accompany his wife to the mass of the Roman Catholic Church. One day, when his wife was not in town, he decided to attend a Roman Catholic mass on his own. This created a lot of furore in the United Kingdom, and senior members of the Church of England hierarchy expressed a fear that he might be converting to Roman Catholicism. One such member wrote an article in a leading daily in the United Kingdom (“Rome is not for you just yet, Mr Blair”, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, The Times, London, March 9, 1998). He said that, upon conversion, the prime minister may give in to the dictates of the Vatican on issues which conflict with that of the country’s needs. A similar fear was expressed during the time of the John F Kennedy’s campaign for the president of the United States. The Kennedy family is Roman Catholic, and he had to make a special announcement that he will not be guided with what Vatican has to say. On issues like family planning the Vatican has always taken an obscurantist stand in opposing it. Just as Mahatma Gandhi had asked them not to use social service as a means of conversion, the Hindutvavadis do the same. We believe that at the time of such conversions, the person is in a weak state of mind and spirit, and is more likely to be swayed by emotions rather than reason. While raising the funds for these social ill not service activities, a clear statement should be made that it will not lead to conversions. Many of the fund raising activities ill Europe and the United States have explicitly stated that the social service activities will greatly assist in conversions. The Christian laity should be more independent of the church hierarchy. They should speak out more forcefully when the Hierarchy is in the wrong - be they temporal matters or theological. Particularly in the latter, where there is a question of double standards, it is the dharma of the laity that they should not be seen as acquiescing to something that is patently wrong. When we had the discussion with the Christian group, while making it clear that they represent only themselves, they said that they would not come out openly against the church hierarchy on any issue. Such servitude does little credit to the community. The banning of the writings of Fr Anthony De Mello, mentioned earlier, is a case in point. The actions taken by the Roman Catholic Church clearly exposes that the exclusivist thinking is still prevalent. In its generally favourable comment on the 13th encyclical of Pope John Paul II, Faith and Reason, The Guardian Weekly (Oct 25, 1998) said in its editorial, “But the record of the Church over the past two decades is strikingly at odds with the message of Faith and Reason. With a severity unseen for many decades, it has singled out theologians who transgress the ideological boundaries for humiliation, even cruel punishment: Tissa Balasuriya, Leonardo Boff, Hans Kung, to name a few.” The Indian Christian community has done very little to make its opposition to this type of tyranny. This inaction reinforces the fear that, as in the past, the Christians will always support the church even if it is not in the interest of the nation. I had sent a copy of the Vatican document which justifies the banning of the books of Fr De Mello to one Fr CM Paul of Calcutta. In an amazing acknowledgement of the receipt, he says, “I wouldn’t be surprised it is all part of a great sales gimmick!” Now, why the Vatican wants to promote books which it is

seeking to ban is beyond our comprehension. If Fr Paul made the statement in jest, it is surely in very poor taste. The Christians in India have to learn to accommodate their philosophy within the Hindu paradigm, which is also the paradigm of their biological ancestors. This accommodation has been made by others who have come from outside, and not only have they survived, but have also prospered. It is not only what the Hindutvavadis expects of Christians that is important. Indian Christians have to determine their own place in the society in India.

Appendix I Notification Concerning The Writings Of Father Anthony De Mello, SJ - Congregation for the doctrine of the faith. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect and Tarcisio Bertone, SDB, Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli, Secretary. The Indian Jesuit priest, Father Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) is well known due to his numerous publications which, translated into various languages, have been widely circulated in many countries of the world, though not all of these texts were authorized by him for publication. His works, which almost always take the form of brief stories, contain some valid elements of oriental wisdom. These can be helpful in achieving self-mastery, in breaking the bonds and feelings that keep us from being free, and in approaching with serenity the various vicissitudes of life. Especially in his early writings, Father de Mello, while revealing the influence of Buddhist and Taoist spiritual currents, remained within the lines of Christian spirituality. In these books, he treats the different kinds of prayer: petition, intercession and praise, as well as contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Christ, etc. But already in certain passages in these early works and to a greater degree in his later publications, one notices a progressive distancing from the essential contents of the Christian faith. In place of the revelation which has come in the person of Jesus Christ, he substitutes an intuition of God without form or image, to the point of speaking of God as a pure void. To see God it is enough to look directly at the world. Nothing can be said about God. The only knowing is unknowing. To pose the question of his existence is already nonsense. This radical apophaticism leads even to a denial that the Bible contains valid statements about God. The words of Scripture are indications which serve only to lead a person to silence. In other passages, the judgment on sacred religious texts, not excluding the Bible, becomes even more severe: they are said to prevent people from following their own common sense and cause them to become obtuse and cruel. Religions, including Christianity, are one of the major obstacles to the discovery of truth. This truth, however, is never defined by the author in its precise contents. For him, to think that the God of one’s own religion is the only one is simply fanaticism. “God” is considered as a cosmic reality, vague and omnipresent. The personal nature of God is ignored and in practice denied. Father de Mello demonstrates an appreciation for Jesus, of whom he declares himself to be a “disciple.” But he considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is “awake” and fully free, while others are not. Jesus is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that all people are children of God. In addition, the author’s statements on the final destiny of man give rise to perplexity. At one point, he speaks of a “dissolving” into the impersonal God, as salt dissolves in water. On various occasions, the question of destiny after death is declared to be irrelevant; only the

present life should be of interest. With respect to this life, since evil is simply ignorance, there are no objective rules of morality. Good and evil are simply mental evaluations imposed upon reality. Consistent with what has been presented, one can understand how, according to the author, any belief or profession of faith whether in God or in Christ cannot but impede one’s, personal access to truth. The Church, making the word of God in Holy Scripture into an idol, has ended up banishing God from the temple. She has consequently lost the authority to teach in the name of Christ. With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm. The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Notification, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication. Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 24, 1998, the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.

Appendix II A Retrospect: Christianity in India (An exposition of the RSS view of the Relevance of Christianity in India Today) by Shripaty Sastry

A Publisher’s Note In the following pages the reader will find an exposition of the RSS view on the relevance of Christianity in India, today. This exposition was made by an eminent RSS worker of Pune, Shri Shripaty Sastry, in a direct dialogue with a distinguished Christian fraternity gathered at the De Nobili College, Pune. Shri Shripaty Sastry received a communication from Dr. Mathew R Lederle, SJ, a Pune based German Jesuit Missionary on February 24th, 1983 in which the latter had, on behalf of the Organising Committee, Student’s Council, Jnanadeepa Vidyapeeth (Papal Seminary) extended an invitation to him to participate in a Seminar to be held in the beginning of July 1983 to explain the RSS views on the Relevance of Christianity in India Today. The invitation was accepted and Shri Sastry received a follow-up letter on June 9th, 1983 from Shri J. Felix Raj, SJ, the Chairman of the Seminar Organising Committee confirming the same. He wrote Thanks for having accepted our invitation to share your valuable experience and reflections with us in the Seminar on the Relevance of Christianity in India Today. Your talk will be from a RSS point of view on July 8, Friday at 10.30 a.m. He further added: “I shall be happy if you could send to me a transcript of your talk one of these days. We would like to use it for the book to be published shortly after the Seminar.”

Jnanadeepa Vidyapeeth (Papal Seminary) is an institution of Philosophy and Religion run by the Jesuits in the De Nobili College, Pune. The Seminar was held in the Papal Seminary Hall under the Chairmanship of Shri Felix Raj, SJ, and Shri Shripaty Sastry addressed the distinguished gathering of students, professors, priests, nuns and missionaries. It included a few from the foreign countries. The talk was followed by an hour long session for questions and answers. The speech as well as the questions and answers were tape recorded by the organisers of the Seminar and on request they were kind enough to lend it out to us along with the synopsis that had been submitted, for the purpose of this publication. Certain minor editings were considered necessary before the speech was put in print, a publisher’s obligation while presenting a spoken word in the form of a printed one. And again certain points raised during the question and answer session but which were not related to the main theme of the speech were dileted. The present publication is the edited form of the speech made, question and answers that followed and the synopsis that had been submitted to the seminar. An edited copy was conveyed to the Chairman of the Seminar Organising Committee before it went to Press. While acknowledging the same the Chairman wrote to us: De Nobili College PUNE October 26, 1983 .......... His (Shripaty Sastry’s) was one of the most interesting and thought provoking talks to the student... participants of the Seminar. His openness and frankness were highly appreciated by all the staff and students at Jnanadeepa Vidyapeeth. I hope this cordial invitation of ours to an active RSS man to share his views on Christianity with us will be the first step towards an open and fraternal dialogue between Christians and RS S in India. I am sure such a dialogue will greatly enable us to work for the betterment of people and for promoting justice and peace in our country. With warm regards to RSS friends, Yours sincerely, Sd/- J. Felix Raj, 51. Chairman, (Seminar Organising Committee) We share and reciprocate the fond hopes and in fact, it is this optimism that prompted us to bring out the present publication. The publication of this booklet at this moment is particularly opportune as the country is seized with the most vexatious problem of contemporary India, namely, the problem of the religious minorities and the debate and discussion over this vital issue all over the country must be based on historic facts. The Retrospect is an exposition of the RSS views on the Relevance of Christianity in India, Today in a nutshell. We sought the permission to publish it both because of its subject matter and of the able handling of it by the author. We are thankful to the JDV students Council in general and to Shri Felix Raj, SJ, in particular for their cooperation which made this publication possible. Our thanks are due to our many friends who helped us in preparing the manuscript for print and a formal thanks to printers - Maharashtra Mudran Shala, Pune, is but a poor expression of gratitude for their excellent work.

Shri Shripaty Sastry’s speech: Brothers and Sisters, I have been called upon to speak on the topic ‘Relevance of Christianity in India Today’ as a RSS man looks at it. As you may be aware the RSS is wedded to the organising of the Hindu people on the common basis of their Hindu-ness which is another name for the intense love of this country and its culture. The RSS connotation of the word ‘Hindu’ is national not religious. In fact ‘Hindu’ is not a religion in the sense in which Islam or Christianity are understood to be so. Let me amplify. Hinduism - A Parliament of Religions India is an ancient nation, perhaps the most ancient. Withstanding all the shocks of cruel history, India has lived a long civilised life united by a common culture which, for many centuries has been characterised by remarkable continuity. During the course of this mighty, long history numerous religious beliefs were propounded and numerous religious practices were evolved in India. A large number of people hold the Vedas as the source of their religion, they are Hindus. A considerable section of our countrymen reject the Vedic authority but they are also Hindus. A majority of the people of this country are image-worshippers, yet they are Hindus. Quite a few people like the Arya Samajis decry the wisdom of image-worship but they are Hindus still. Those who call themselves as agnostics are also Hindus. There is a school of thought propounded by an ancient Indian sage, Charvaka by name, which refuses to believe in the existence of God. They are pure materialists but they are Hindus. Hindu is not the name of any form of worship but a confederation, or a parliament of numerous religious practices sharing in common the love of this country, its history and its cultural heritage. Christianity in India has not yet federated itself with it. I visualise a time, in the distant future when it will become a sister federated unit. A Hindu does not visualise God as a Christian God or a Muslim God or a Buddhist God or a Jain God. To a Hindu, God is God pure and simple. A Hindu does not distinguish ideas of God as true and false, adopting one particular idea as the standard for the whole human race. He accepts the obvious fact that mankind seeks its goal of God at various levels and in various directions. He feels sympathy with every stage of the search and accepts all religious notions as facts. Therefore, people professing various religions abound in this country and as Hindus we take pride in this situation. If, tomorrow, one of our countrymen wants to practice a particular religious faith and if there is no scope for it, as a Hindu, I think India has grown the poorer for it. But never did our fore-fathers believe that the religions that were greeted with ‘welcome’ would one day throw a mortal challenge to the unity, integrity and happiness of this country. Trauma of Partition Remember the partition of India in 1947. It brought untold suffering and unprecedented humiliation in its train. Men, women and children were given a profuse blood bath when we were gloating over our ‘bloodless revolution’. A glorious dream of independent, happy India, born out of love, goodwill and brotherhood, a dream nurtured for generations was blown to pieces because of religion. The work of Mahatma Gandhi and all the great patriots of this country was destroyed in no time. Therefore, one must be extremely careful in determining the place of religion vis-a-vis the nation. Even after Independence the problem of religious minorities continues to be one of the most vexing and intriguing problems of contemporary India. The temperament of the people of the country, and the trauma of India’s partition contributed to the thinking of the Constituent Assembly on religious minority groups. There are elaborate articles on “minority rights”

ensuring freedom of religious beliefs; in fact in no other constitution have the minorities had it so good as in ours. One might even call India ‘a paradise of minorities’. Yet, in no other country the religious groups have made such a serious encroachment on the happy, harmonious national life as in India. Christianity is a part of the problem under study. As a religion it is associated with India for centuries and Christians are a religious minority consisting of about 3% of the total population. They are numerically strong in certain states such as Kerala and the North-East India region. In such states as Andhra and Tamilnadu their number is not negligible. So also in a few small pockets like Goa, where they are not only influential but often decisive. The Background In the beginning, the rulers of the East India Company did not show much enthusiasm for missionary activity. The Company recognised that the people of India were peculiarly sensitive in the matter of religion. In 1781, evidence before a Committee of the Commons elicited the unanimous opinion that “any interference with the religion of the natives would eventually ensure the total destruction of the British Power”. Gradually, a policy of religious, neutrality was evolved. But the Governors and Governors General privately sympathised with and supported the Missionary activities in India. The evangelical party in England was gaining ground and they climaxed their efforts to win public support for “Christianising India”. They succeeded in their efforts and in July 1813, a clause was inserted in the Charter Act by which Missionaries of all faiths were allowed to enter India. Missionary exertions were recognised by the Legislature and it gave a profound impetus to the movement. The debate and the ultimate victory of ‘the Party of Saints’ served to attract other Western nations to pastures available in India for the missionary work. The Charter Act of 1813 opened the gates of India for a perennial influx of the holymen from Christendom. In 1813, for example, there were six American Protestant Missions moving in India and in 1910 nearly 180 American Protestant Agencies were working in India for propagating Christianity. Since then there is an influx of missionaries and theirs was the religion of the ruling class. The missionaries were aware that certain elements in Christian preachings - particularly its intolerance of non-Christian faiths - have proved disruptive of India’s cultural heritage; yet since their object was to make this heritage subservient to Christianity they relished the situation. As a consequence many Hindus felt quite justified in regarding Christianity as a political as well as a religious weapon of the West. Happy Gestures During the pre-independence period certain prominent Christians of India had stood against communal representation. Early in the twentieth century Joseph Baptista; a prominent Christian leader in Bombay said, “I thoroughly disapprove of separate electorate for Indian Christians in water-tight compartments”. He was wisest when he considered it best not to alienate the sympathy of majority by clamouring for separate electorates. He could stand up against the pressures of certain Muslim League leaders and strongly refused to have anything to do with them on this proposal. Bishop Azariah another leading Christian, opposed communal representation and in 1928 he issued an appeal recommending the abolition of all forms of communal representation. K.J. Paul of the Y.M.C.A. movement advised: “We cannot exalt merit, character and efficiency in the services or insist on probity in public leadership, and at the same time do what is commonly called fight over community”.

There were quite a few well-intentioned Christians and their goodness was duly reciprocated by the Hindus. Christianity in India was mixed up With the British rule and to some extent with the rule of the Portuguese. The Indian Christians were uneasily aware that their bonafides were under a cloud and one of the foremost leaders of the Christian community, H.C. Mookerjee, confessed “We have to monstrate by every word we utter and by every act we perform that the professing of a different religious faith has not tended in the least to make us less Indian in our outlook than our non-Christian brethren, that we are prepared to play our part and to shoulder our share of the responsibility in every kind of work undertaken for the benefit of our country as a whole”. Jesus Christ and the Church I revere Christ. One of the reasons why I do so is that I am a Hindu. There is much to admire in Christianity - the life-story of Jesus Christ, sayings of the prophets, educative parables and the ideals presented therein. The precious teachings in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ certainly leave a deep impression upon the mind. But despite all this, one is unable to identify oneself with the orthodox Christianity and the Church. So in India when Christianity challenges Hinduism the Hindus draw a sharp distinction between Christian sectarianism and dogmatism and the spirit and teachings of Christ. It is a line that separates Christ from Christians. The Holy Bible and Jesus Christ are held in high reverence by the Hindus but the activities carried on by the Churches in His name are looked upon with suspicion. The church has discovered that Hinduism is full of faults. The fiction of a degenerated India and debased Hinduism seems to be the lifeblood of missionaries and they have no intention of parting with it. Missionaries boast of giving pagan India the first printing press. India is thankful. But how can a Hindu forget that the very first pamphlet Carey’s Printing Press at Serampore published contained nothing but insulting and filthy attacks on Hindu Culture. During his talk at Detroit, Vivekananda had drawn this line distinctly. He had said, “When you come to us as missionaries, you ought to throw over all idea of nationality. Jesus did not go about among English officials attending champagne suppers. If your missionary does not follow Christ, what right has he to call himself a Christian. We want missionaries of Christ. Let such come to India by the hundreds and thousands. Bring Christ’s life to us and let it permeate every village and corner of India.” The ability to obtain converts by paying money during famine hardly qualifies anybody to be a disciple of Christ. Christ crucified has become a silent spectator to the foulest exploitation of His name by his doubtful disciples. Politics of Conversion Indeed in the whole of the Christian-Hindu strained relationship there has been no greater cause of friction than the Christian campaign of conversion. When the one who is in an advantageous position seeks to force his conception of God and the Universe on the other who is in a vulnerable position, when the one strikes at that which is deepest and most precious in the heart of the other, he invites resistance. The Christians of India are converts or descendants of converts whose conversion had been secured during some period of history by force or fraud; conversion by persuasion is a rarity. Voluntary change of faith prompted by spiritual motives, nobody objects to. The Rev. Tilak, Pandita Ramabai are of such type. Change of faith did not diminish their love of India’s cultural heritage. But how are whole villages converted en mass in no time? Are mass conversions prompted by any spiritual motive? Voluntary change of faith is preceded by great psychological revolution; nobody abandoned Hinduism that way. Most of the converts have

been victims of threats, allurements financial stringency, ignorance, deception and persecution. The less said the better about the role of the sword in securing recruits for the gospel. It is an ugly past. The Hindus who had gladly given asylum to the Jewish wanderers, the exiled Parsis and persecuted Christians found themselves victims of proselytisation by Christians. For quite a long time there had been a continuous decline of Hindus in number. When under the British religion became the basis of representation, the missionary movement acquired momentum. Even a small increase in Christian population and a decrease among the Hindus would bring in its train a chain of troubles, political and social. What ails India’s northeast is this factor. It is the political consequence of the supposed religious conversions. There is something unhealthy in the whole missionary idea. To go to a people like the Hindus, a race of high culture and a long tradition with philosophical, ethical and religious systems ante-dating Christianity and to go avowedly to save its people from damnation is certainly something grotesque! Humanitarian and philanthropic works are only excuses to enable themselves to go near their victims to tear out the ancient religion from the simple and trusting hearts. Gandhiji wrote: “Conversion now-a-days has become a matter of business, like any other. I remember having read a missionary report saying how much it cost per head to convert and then presenting a budget for the next harvest.” He further maintained: “If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytising. For Hindu households, the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family, coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drink”. What Gandhiji wanted to stop, viz. Conversion has been held by the Christian missionary as his basic religious fight. The best of them, Mother Teresa, justified it very recently in an interview by saying that ‘conversion is a change of mind by love’.” Remove the tapestry of the language, it is an aggression on the Hindu society. Therefore, a Hindu cannot condone conversion and he must not. A large pail of Asia has gone Islamic and another large chunk communist. Their doors are closed for Christian missionaries to storm in. So, India has emerged as a fertile grazing ground. Christianity is now working overtime trying to convert our people, particularly the tribals. The rich white missionary agencies are making use of the country’s poverty and social ills to further their ends. They offer temptations, a cardinal sin, in order to effect conversions. The Baptist missionary in North-Eastern belt, for example, reward with cheap polyester trousers to those tribals who change their religion; with motor bicycles if they also help their brothers to be converted. In Madhya Pradesh as the Neogy Report showed, the missionaries give small loans of say five or ten dollars to the tribals on interest, loans which they know could not be easily paid back but the payment of which can be waived off if the debtors accepted Christianity. On a more sophisticated level, they run schools and dispensaries, asylums and orphanages and engage in so-called social work. Since the basic motive is proselytisation or creating congenial climate for proselytizers, these services are tainted and poisoned. Social work has now become big business. It is not disinterested philanthropy. To a superficial observer the Christianity centres appear not only quite harmless, but as the very embodiment of sympathy and love for humanity. Words like ‘service’, ‘human salvation’ flow endlessly from their speeches. The ultimate objective is to de-Hinduise. The people of our country, simple and innocent as they are, are taken in by all these things. The sweetest of tongues is accompanied by the sharpest of teeth. Is it not arrogance going in the garb of humility’? It reminds me of the story of Pootana, an evil woman who made a show of motherly affection and wanted to breastfeed infant Krishna. But it was not milk but poison. Christianity and National Unity

One wonders why Christian protelytisation should lead to an excess of love-bond with a Western country. For some time it was even justified as an attempt to stem the tide of communism. The converts were given not only a psychological affinity with the people of the Western’ countries but were weaned away from the national society. The language, the script, the dress, other modes of life, the feasts and the festivals, names and nomenclatures all undergo a change. It is this aspect of Christianity that has today come into conflict with nationalism and has created a strong suspicion in the minds of the national societies. That explains why conversion of a man to Christianity is not just a change in the form of worship but a change in the priority of loyalties. That again explains why Christians are looked upon by many as a potential fifth column. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was a bitter critic of the traditional Hindu society and announced that he would change his religion. But he rejected Islam and Christianity as alternatives though there were tempting offers and invitations. Why did he reject them? He said, “If my people become Muslims they become denationalised and if they become Christians British rule will be strengthened.” One wonders why an increase in the number of Christians strengthen the British rule? In the words of Lord Halifax, the Secretary of State, “Every additional Christian is an additional bond of Union with this Country and an additional source of strength to the empire.” The creation of ‘Nagaland’ is a glaring example in point. That open rebellion going on in the Naga Hills is all engineered by the Christian missionaries was accepted even by Nehru. The Nagas used foreign arms against Indian army. They were American arms. Our Planes were shot down. The rebel leader of this gangsterism fled the country and he was given asylum by a noted Christian Missionary, Michael Scott, who abetted him in making various statements damaging our reputation. International pressure, to which our Delhi rulers were unduly sensitive, was built up by the Christians. They started ‘peace talks’ and the ‘peace mission’ included this: gentle-man Michael Scott. The dream is to convert Nagaland into an independent State dominated by Christian fanatics. Today, when a Christian Naga comes to Shillong he says, ‘I am going to India’ as if he is a non-Indian. The troubles that the Indians experienced during the agitation for a ‘separate’ Jharkhand in Bihar, the desecration of ancient Hindu temples in Kerala including Shabarimatai, the trouble engineered at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial premises at Kanyakumari, the recent troubles at Nilakkal in Kerala and the pitched battles which the rebel Mizos are fighting with Indian army are all the gifts of Christians. Christianity in India today is losing its identity as a religion and acquiring the identity of an imperialist ideology. Their religious functionaries are more than priests. In the words of an African nationalist: “When they (Christian Missionaries) came, we had the land and they had the Bible, and today we have the Bible and they have our land”. Foreign Missionaries Please Go Home India is infested with a large number of these uninvited guests, the Michael Scotts and the Father Ferars. One need hardly emphasise public attitude towards them. They have come to India to ‘save’ the ‘heathens’ from ‘damnation’. We are to believe that they have come on a mission of mercy. Let a missionary try to convert a single Muslim in any Islamic country, he is sure to be lynched and murdered immediately by the Muslim mobs even before the state apparatus could confiscate visas and issue orders of expulsion. Can he recruit a convert in any communist country without being caught as an ‘imperialist agent’ and sent to a labour camp? Are not certain missionaries languishing in prisons in certain South-East Asian countries on the charge of ‘subversion’? Even Buddhist. Burma has barred his entry. One would shudder to think how

the Boxers dealt with the missionaries in China. I do not want India to be marred with any such ugly event. Every child knows what reception awaits Christian Missionaries in Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is desirable that they should not take India for granted. It is time that they should return home. Go they should while the going is good. I want every foreign missionary to reach his home back - safely with sweet memories of India. Mahatma Gandhi was categorical: “If you feel that India has a message to give to the world, that India’s religions too are true and you come as fellow-helpers and fellow,-seekers there is a place for you here. But if you come as preachers of the ‘true gospel’ to a people who are wandering in darkness; so far as I am concerned, you can have no place”. Therefore, Indian Christianity requires to be immediately de-internationalised. Christ and his teachings are quite safe and secure in the hands of Indian Christians. They have produced bishops, archbishops and even cardinals. They have even produced abundant literature on Christianity in the vernaculars. The Western Christian countries that have themselves rejected Christianity are keeping it for export to India. The foreign ecclesiastical know-how is not at all needed. Therefore, the foreign missionaries must return home, the earlier the better. A foreigner can come to India as a student, a merchant, a visitor, a sportsman or in any capacity except as a ruler or a missionary. In either case he comes to ‘impose’. It is this ‘imposition’ that the Hindus resist. I need not remind you how the Hindus reacted to the activities of Father Ferar. It is not a simple outburst but a writing on the wall. Harijan Christians Representatives of four Christian Organisations called on the Prime Minister recently, stressing that the benefits available to Hindu Harijans be extended to the Christian Harijans also. Christianity was offered as a way out to the Hindu Harijans but once they are christianised, the old basis is re-borrowed. It is a confession that the Hindu Harijans converted to Christianity are not benefited and their economic condition is not improved and the change of religion is not a change for the better. The number of former converts returning to the Hindu fold is also increasing. You cannot give equality you promise at the time of enticement. But you want to have the best of both worlds. In June 1981 about 200 Hindus and 50 Christians of Kurayoor Village, only 40 KM from Madurai embraced Islam. The reason is Harijan Hindus and Harijan Christians buffer from the same disabilities. Christianity has failed to overcome the so called evils of casteism. There are clear distinct groups within with absolutely no social exchange and the backward class converts are still regarded as low-caste Christians by others. In a reply to a question ‘Are not Christians entitled, to combat untouchability’ Mahatma Gandhi said, “Not only are the Christians entitled, but it is their duty to combat untouchability in their own midst. But if the question is that Christians should combat untouchability in Hinduism my answer is that they simply cannot do it because untouchability of Hinduism should not be untouchability of Christians. The anti-untouchability movement means weaning Hindus from their error. This cannot be effectively done by non-Hindus, even as Hindus cannot bring about religious reform among Christians and Mussalmans. If the question means that Christian should combat untouchability among Hindus by converting untouchables to Christianity they do not advance the cause in any shape or form; the cause being reform among caste Hindus. If the latter repented their sin the Harijans would be delivered from the yoke of untouchability in a moment. Conversion can never do it. It can only add to the prevailing bitterness and introduce a disturbing factor in a situation which is already bad”. Christianity - A Vote Bank

In order to accommodate diverse religious groups in a happy national life secularism was propounded. It suited the Indian temperament well. It was a misfortune that the concept of secularism which is enshrined in the Constitution of India and which has become the most sacred slogan for all our political parties should be distorted, misinterpreted, and misused to the maximum to block out the least little expression of Hindu ethos and of Hindu Culture in the State apparatus and the public life of India. Secularism became an umbrella under which many politicians patronised religious minorities so that they could reach the citadels of power. Religious minorities became vote-banks. Thus, certain political parties have come to develop a vested interest in according a special treatment nay, a preferential treatment to the religious minorities and have formed their minority cells for the purpose. The Government has its Minority Commission. Since they are familiar with the political behaviour of the religious groups each wants to have a slice in the Christian cake. The Christians are exploiting this terrible weakness of the parties and politicians. The way they conducted their agitation against the Freedom of Religion Bill, the recent agitation against certain text books revisions in Maharashtra, the incidents in the Kanyakumari district and the Nilakkal troubles in Kerala that are now going on are all examples of the political pressure which Christians can build up on the basis of their voting strength. The above incidents are convincing proof of the militant communal role which the Indian Christianity has, of late, opted for. Return of the Converts For long the Hindus had developed a suicidal habit of declaring these converts, as ‘Outcasts’ and the Hindu house had only ‘exits’ and ‘no entrance’. They did not take back converts willing to return to the ancestral faith. But of late, Hindus have become alive to the dangers inherent in this one-way traffic and decided to throw open the gates of Hinduism to the lost tribes. If Christianity claims conversion as its basic right, it must give the same right to the Hindus so that they could claim their lost brethren back. As Dr. Rajendra Prased wrote in his India Divided “If the Hindus, on I heir side also stair converting non-Hindus to their faith, it is no business of the non-Hindus, specially if they are themselves engaged in the work of conversion, to object. The Hindus must have the same right of propagating their faith as others have. But men are not always guided by logic or by a sense of justice and fairness”. To a Hindu moreover it is not ‘conversion’ but a recall or return to ‘home’. Christianity and Secularism In order to promote a happy coexistence of diverse religions, secularism was propounded. The Christian Church will not hesitate to approve the secularist ideals. The gullible Hindu dances in delight at the response evoked by his theories of Secularism and Sarva Dharma Sama Bhav. But you cannot hoodwink all. I remember an incident associated with the life of Mao Tse-Tung. An American journalist met Mao during one of his Long March hide-outs and said : “In America many people believe that you are only an agrarian reformer not a Communist, what have you to say?”. Mao smiled and said: ‘I do not care what belief certain sons of bitches are having about me as long as the belief helps my revolution’. A Christian missionary talks in the loudest language about secularism because it helps his conversion and denationalisation activities. Ask him whether he is ready to accord equal respect to other religions and display his belief in Sarva Dharma Sama Bhav, he throws his hands up and says ‘my religious faith does not permit it’. According to him all others are ‘heathens’ to be ‘saved’ from ‘damnation’ by making them believe in the ‘One Word of that

One Son of that One God’. This is the nonsense of his secularism. When Mother Teresa was asked what side she would take if confronted with the old dilemma of Church versus Galileo, she unhesitatingly said: ‘Church’. In vain did Europe fight for centuries to free Reason from blind faith. Almost all the good and great among the holy Christians, otherwise admirable are, when it come to the question of Church, all closed minds. What is the way out?

The RSS Way According to the late Golwalkar, Chief of the RSS and the present Chief Deoras, religion need not be a compelling factor in determining the nationhood of a people. Religious Unity was long considered to be a potent unifying force in Europe and all means were employed by many states to secure such unity among their inhabitants. To the RSS it was not an indispensable factor in its concept of the ‘nation’. It was more a matter of conscience and must cease to colour the loyalties and outlook of the people about social and political matters. A common way of life rather than a common form of worship had been the most conspicuous feature of the Hindu national existence. The Hindu concept of unity or integration is harmony, certainly not uniformity. A man can be Hindu by nationality and at the same time be a Sanatani or an Arya Samaji, a Muslim or a Christian, a Sikh or a Buddhist. In Golwalkar’s Hinduism there is room enough for Jesus, as there is for Mohammed, Zoroaster and Moses. He would have been shocked if anybody had suggested anything less than equal rights to Muslims or Christians. He considered it as un-Hindu to discriminate between any two persons just on the basis of religious faith. He put it thus: “The non-Hindu who lives here has a Rashtra-Dharma (national responsibility) a Samaja - Dharma (duty to society), a Kula-Dharma (duty to ancestors) and only in his VyaktiDharma (personal faith) can he choose any path which satisfies his spiritual urge. If even after fulfilling all those various duties in social life, anybody says that he has studied the Quran Sharif or the Bible and that way of worship strikes a sympathetic chord in his heart and that he can pray better through that path of devotion, we have absolutely no objection”. To a question - do you not approve religious toleration in respect of Islam & Christianity? - Golwalkar and Deoras have repeatedly replied that they not only tolerated them but respected them. The RSS wants India to be a land of many religious faiths as in the past, all equally honoured and respected, but of one national outlook. Questions and Answers Q.1: You have taken it for granted that the Indian Christians are originally Hindus. But the original people of India are Dravidians, the Hindus have come to India originally as Aryans. Is not Hinduism also a foreign religion to India and Hindus foreigners? Ans.: There is, of course, a story of Aryan migration in history. Scholars have spent much of their time and energy examining the theory that the Aryans migrated to India from somewhere, some three or four thousand years ago. Personally I hold that if there was any migration it was from India to outside, not from outside to India. I reject the hypothesis which maintains that Hindus are foreigners and India was a no man’s land inhabited by only aboriginals. Following dons theory all foreigners can be put on par with the Hindus. So the theory is repeated ad nauseam. Admitting, for argument

sake (only for argument sake) that Hindus came from outside, the fact remains that Hinduism has grown with, the history of this country and has become an inseparable part of this country. Hindus have throughout history fought for this country, defended this country and died for this country. Here they grew as a people, a great race, propounded various religious beliefs and a philosophical system, evolving a high culture, and have beautified this country. The identification is total. We just want you to recognise this total identification. Without India Hindus have no other place to call their own and if there are no Hindus there is nobody to fight and die for this country as the motherland. After independence the Government have been distributing the Tamrapatras to the freedom fighters. Whenever it has been possible for them to confer Tamrapatras on a Muslim gentleman or a Christian they would always be enthusiastic because they are searching for such gentlemen desperately. Please look at the list of the recipients and count how many Christians have secured it. Well the less said the better. I do not hold Indian Christians foreigners. What is the meaning of the term ‘Indian Christian’? Analyse the phrase. It is a Hindu who has (or whose forefathers had) embraced Christianity. Here the word ‘Indian’ means ‘Hindu’, that is, you are basically ‘a Hindu’. Similarly, who is an Indian Mussalman? It is a Hindu who has (or whose ancestors have) embraced Islam. Here again ‘Indian’ connotes ‘Hindu’. Have you ever come across the expression ‘Indian Hindu’? Never, for the simple reason that the world believes that Indian means ‘Hindu’. If so, can a Hindu be a foreigner in India? Q.2: I admire the discipline of the RSS But I have a bit of a problem. The way a person thinks depends very much on the way he is brought up and the early teaching he had. The RSS catches hold of young people and tries to brainwash them. They are taught to hate other religions, the Muslims, Christians and others. They cannot think straight, their mind is jaundiced and conditioned by this hatred. Ans.: Today’s topic of talk is ‘Relevance of Christianity in India’, Let me remind you. Now about the RSS preaching hatred, Guruji Golwalkar, the former Chief of the RSS, and the present Chief Deoras have spoken for nearly fifty years now and abundant RSS literature has plied up. I challenge anyone of you to point out a single derogatory word or expression towards Jesus Christ, Biblical teachings, Prophets of the Bible, Mohammed Paigambar or Koran, or pilgrimage to the Holy Land Jerusalem or Mecca or about anything which is exclusively religious. RSS has nothing against the above; it just cannot even afford to be so for the simple reason that within the Hindu-fold numerous religions flourish. Religion is not the concern of the RSS at all. The attitude of RSS towards any individual or any group of individuals is determined not on the basis of religious beliefs but by a different criterion, a different touchstone. What is that criterion? It is: ‘What is your attitude towards this country, towards the people of this country, towards the integrity, independence and glory of this country, towards the welfare and domestic happiness of the millions and millions people of this country? It is on this basis that the attitude of the RSS towards you is determined. If you love this country as your motherland, our countrymen as your brothers and do not entertain any ambition to inject any friction in their happy life by imposing your will upon them, automatically you become our brother, because you honestly consider our mother as yours. But if you hold India as a pasture to impose your will, our attitude towards you changes. That is the RSS criterion. Q.3: I am grateful to you because you have spoken with great frankness. You have confirmed some of my own observations. The first step that the Christian Church should make

is an act of confession of its guilts. I myself come from Goa and I know the history of the Portuguese. I know the wounded feelings of my Hindu brethren of Goa. You have made clear certain things I have been thinking myself. I know a considerable section of humanity is hurt by the policies of the Church. The Church must, therefore, make a confession. I do not want go back into history which is not bright but I want to ask: Do you see any ray of hope from the Christian quarters in India, as regards a dialogue or any relationship with the Hindu fraternity for a bright future, or do you think the future is as black as the past? Ans.: I am very happy to hear the thoughtful words of this friend from Goa. We are not so mean minded as to want that anybody should come and plead guilty or confess guilt. Just call this mother country as your motherland and deeply love her as such, then all our problems with Christians are solved. It is just a question of changing your psychology. Our people have built temples, do not desecrate them. They have their scriptures, do not ridicule them. They have points of honour, respect them. There are heroes who have enriched the heritage of this country, own them. Though an Arya Samajist does not believe in image-worship, never does he desecrate it. That makes him a blood-brother with the rest. Never try to impose your idea of God on the others. There is one small section of Christians who call themselves ‘nationalist church’. They are the first bold section of Indian Christians who have freed themselves from the Church orthodoxy and have organised themselves on nationalist lines. It is a small number. It will take time. I wish it should grow and I hope it will grow. I want to believe that the Indian Christian is basically Indian, a man of this soil and a man who has eaten this salt. He might have changed his form of worship but he has not changed his ancestors. He cannot change his blood. Love of the country cannot so easily be erased. The call of the race spirit, and patriotism will surely one day undo excess of other things. Q.4: Happy to hear your formulation. People who believe in the Vedas and people who are not worshippers of idols and non-worshippers are all Hindus. A beautiful formulation indeed! But one question occurs to me, would I be wrong if I consider you a Christian? Because the way you described the aspirations of the people in India, the way you identified yourself with the history of India, I thought you are fully a Christian. I hope you do not object to this .... Ans.: ‘I do not know what precisely the question means. To be a Christian is to adhere, to a particular religious practice. I have been telling you ‘Hindu’ is not the name of any one particular religious belief. Hindu is the name of a nationality. You are speaking of adherence to a specific religious faith. I am speaking in terms of society, nation and people, not, in terms God, mode of worship, or scripture. I emphasise the content of the, word Hindu more than the word. The content of it is concerned with the country, the nation, its happiness-and its future, not with the Church, the cathedral, the Priest, the Bible or the Sermon. I have nothing to do with it. Q.5: I am happy I am an Indian, am a Christian and I love my country. Can you clarify how the love of the country is affected because of my Christian religion? Ans.: To make my position clear I shall repeat what has been already said. If a person loves our country as he says, and is ready to subordinate all other considerations of his life to the supreme interests of this nation, I pray ‘May such people multiply’. But what about the activities of the Church? The conversions, particularly Harijan conversions? The Nagaland

problem? Phizo and Michael Scots? Mizoram rebels who are fighting against Indian soldiers? If none of these can be traced to Christian preaching no problem need arise. But is it a fact? If it does, then you must disown them. I have not come across any such disowning of them by any Christian quarter. If I do not know it I am open to correction. I would withdraw it. I spoke on certain premises, I explained them and they can be further explained if time permits. If my premises are wrong then nobody will be more happy than myself to be corrected. Q.6: After much thinking I have always felt I am a Hindu Christian. Whatever the past, today I want to identify myself with all that is Hindu. I am speaking only for myself. Secondly as a Hindu Christian I want to know whether I will be admitted into the RSS I am a nationalist but can the RSS admit me? But I have one condition ‘as a Christian priest I must be allowed to have my Christian faith and share it with others’. Ans: Allow me to deal with the second part of the question first and the first part of the question next. There are already a few RSS members who are Church-goers. They are taking part in the national and social work as envisaged by the RSS, they are Christian Hindus i.e. Hindu followers of Jesus Christ. They read the Bible, celebrate Christmas, attend Church on Sundays and receive Sermons. Births or marriages in their household are blessed and solemnised by Christian priests. They are as good Christians as any one of you. But they participate in RSS programmes, and have subordinated all other considerations of life to the supreme interest of the nation like any other Hindu of the RSS If this gentleman wants to add to that number the RSS says ‘Welcome’. As was mentioned, there is a past. Since the ghost of the past always haunts our mind let us seek a process of reconciliation. To begin with do you think this past is a story you should be proud of? Remember the inquisitions, the persecutions, fraudulent conversions and accompanying cruelty. It is a sad story and a bad story. Then what should be done? Is it wise to inject the explosive past into the present which can only damage the future? The answer is not to ignore, turn a blind eye or to justify the unhappy events of the past. There is a happy way out which I would like to illustrate with an example. It is an example from the history of England. There was a queen called Mary Tudor. She was a Catholic. Her father and brother who ruled earlier were both opposed to the Pope in Rome and the Catholic Church. So when Mary Tudor, a devout Catholic Christian, ascended the throne, she was anxious to undo what her predecessors had done and restore Papal supremacy and the predominance of the Catholic faith in England. She lost the sense of proportion and overdid the job. She introduced the ‘Stake’ i.e. burning religious heretics alive. Hitherto burning people alive in the name of religion was confined to Spain. She imported the ugly practice into England and thought she was serving Roman Catholic interests. It is a dark chapter in the history of the English people. Today there are many Roman Catholics living in England but none of them own or condone what Mary did in the name of their religion. No psychological affinity with the event or its author is there. Or else a harmonious British national life would not have been possible at all. So they disown it. Once they disown it they need not be ashamed of it. Why do you people own those unchristian things perpetrated in the name of ‘Christianity’? Disown that ugly past. Or else how can you acquire that psychological affinity

with the Hindu? There is much in Indian history for you to own, cherish and be proud of. It is your heritage, a heritage enriched by your forefathers whose blood flows and stirs in your nerves and veins. Own it. Q.7: As a man of the RSS you must be knowing the number of Christians who have migrated away from India. What is the number in comparison with the Muslims and Hindus who have left this country? Ans: Situated as I am, I do not have the figures with me. I beg to be excused for my inability to provide the figures. It is an area where I do not want to indulge in any guess work. Q.8: I should be grateful to you for the spirit of patriotism which you have infused into our minds and also for the other side of the Church history you have explained to us. But your explanation of ‘Hindu’, I as a man coming from Tamilnadu cannot agree. E.V. Ramaswami Naicker, himself a Hindu, went on to declare that there is no Hinduism in India at all, there is only Indianism. The Brahmins have given this title ‘Hinduism’ to Indianism and in the name of Hinduism you have exploited the Indians. That is how he put it. And this propaganda proved so effective that the Brahmin tradition maintained its hold on Tamilnadu till now. It is clear in view of its hold on the Congress party in Tamil Nadu. In the name of Hinduism, Hindus are exploiting a vast number of Indians, Harijans and the lower class. There is no Hinduism in India but only Indianism. You spoke of Hindus being very tolerant. From my experience I cannot agree with this. In the district of Kanyakumari you can see what the Hindus, particularly the RSS, have written on the walls and the posters. They have abused not only the priests and others but even our deep Faith, Christ and Our Lady. Only five months back Hindus attacked the Churches with no provocation caused by the Christians. People were shot dead. I am coming from a family where there are RSS members. There were marriages and other celebrations together till last year. How could enmity be created in such families if there was tolerance? Muslims and Hindus were working together in the district. How could this hatred be created if at all Hindus were that tolerant. I have tasted it myself. I want to know your reactions. Ans.: One of the favourite illusions, which gives some comfort to some, is to hold that there is no Hinduism in India because Periyar Ramaswami Naicker said this. Coming from the south as I do, I am familiar with these men and their preachings. To begin with, the Hindu Society is having its own problems, its evils like untouchability and others. They are certainly stigmas on the Hindu society. Hindu reformers and organisations are doing their best to wipe them out. It is our concern. Take untouchability. It dwells in the heart of the caste Hindus. If that is plucked out, the problem will be solved but not by converting the downtrodden. Nobody is justifying these ills and evils. Birth of the RSS itself was due to the social ills that have gripped the Hindu people. On that count no certificate need be given to the Hindu society. But it is our society and they are all our people. Secondly, Brahmin domination and Brahminism exploiting others. Had it been in my hands I would have awarded a big Prize for this wonderful discovery. What is the percentage of Brahmins in India? Look at any Indian village and see who the Brahmins are? A school teacher and a Post-master. Do they pose such a great threat or a danger to the other people of this country? Within the Hindu society there are E.V Ramaswami Naicker and others who can abuse Rama and Krishna. It is only reflective of the catholicity of the Hindu tradition. But do you want to live under illusions?

Go to a village in the Tamilnadu. Ramayana in Tamil by Kamban is recited and heard with the same devotion and rapt attention as it is recited in other languages and heard in other provinces. The ordinary villager in Tamil Nadu also rejoices or weeps as the stories of Rama and Krishna are narrated. I am citing only one example of a common emotion being evoked. That is the basis of a people and a nation not what Ramaswami Naicker says on a platform, although Periyar E.V.R. Naicker, was in his own way devoted to the reform of the Hindu society. As for the troubles in Tamilnadu, as long as the Hindus are silent, quiet and easy-going, they are good boys. The moment they resist and retaliate, (a time comes when they must retaliate) they become demons and devils. The treatment that has been given to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari by the Christians is the first phase, the reaction followed afterwards. What has been done in Nilakkal by the Christians is resisted by Hindus afterwards. RSS does not justify anybody who has uttered a single word of hatred towards another just because he is a Christian. It disowns such literature and its authors. But I do not want you to believe that the Christians in the Kanyakumari district are innocent lambs. Certainly they are not. Q.9: I want one clarification. You said ‘Don’t vote according to the dictates of bishops or priests! Vote by yourselves. There is no proof that any Bishop or any priest has asked us to vote one way or the other. They are meant for our spiritual growth. Ans.: I shall be very happy if that is really the state of affairs. I wish that such a situation should prevail. The political behaviour should be based on political considerations. A religious group behaving in a particular political pattern is unhealthy; in fact that is the story of partition. If you are all assured that there is no direction so suggested, no whispering from your spiritual sources as to for whom to vote and for whom not to vote, I will be the first person to rejoice over it. Q.10: I am a Naga Christian. I agree with you that when a Naga goes to Shillong, he says that ‘he is going to India’. Nagas do speak that way. But I do not agree with you when you attribute it to Christianity. The reason is different. When I first came over here and went out to Ramawadi nearby in Pune along with my friend we were stopped on our way and we were accused as Chinese spies. The Nagas are still migrating away. We find that the culture and the race features are entirely different from the people here. And I am also inclined to compare the ignorance of the Nagas with the literate Indians. Ans.: As a RSS man I hold every Naga as my brother as he is a son of this soil. I referred to the Christian religious activities which led to the Naga rebellion. Well, to make the long story brief, it is a statement made by Pandit Nehru on the floor of the Parliament. If you hold that I am wrong, I am ready to share the ignorance with Jawaharlal Nehru. Q.11: I come from Kerala and my parents consider that they are Christians since long. We are fully identified with the Hindu traditions of our state. You described how to love our mother country. We have done a lot of harm to our people and also a lot of good to our country. We are proud of Indian heritage as you are. Any claim of monopoly of patriotism is arrogance. Have you the right prescription of how to love our mother country? We are as much

Indians by heritage by contribution and by history. It hurts to hear that you alone have the right formula to solve the problems of our motherland. Ans.: I have already spoken on this aspect once. No responsible RSS man harbours an iota of dislike against anyone because of Christianity or any other religion. I have taken the generality of Christians in India. I have traced a brief history of it and I have referred to certain grievances of the Hindus and on that basis I maintain that a good patriot should not do so. If this particular gentleman, coming from a particular part of Kerala, sharing the common heritage has not indulged in such base things, I hold that he is as good a patriot as any other patriotic Hindu.

Appendix III Arun Shourie and the Missionaries in India by Ashok V. Chowgule 1. Introduction 1.1 Shri Arun Shourie’s book Missionaries in India Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas (ASA Publications, New Delhi) has created quite a stir, particularly amongst the missionaries in India. He was invited by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India “to give the Hindu perception of the work of Christian missionaries in India” (p ix). The occasion, called the Pune Consultation, was the celebration of fifty years of the existence of the CBCI, and the meeting was held in January 1994 “to review the work of the Church in India”(p ix). He says, “That lecture and the discussion which followed forms the scaffolding of this book” (p ix). Quite a few of the missionaries have written about it. Some lay Christians have also commented upon them. A common feature of all these writings is that they have, for all practical purpose, condemned Shri Shourie. 1.2 While there must be many more articles written on the subject, for the purpose of this note the following are used as a representative of what has appeared: (a) “Christianity and Conversion”, by Fr R H Lesser, an assessment in The Examiner (July 30 and August 6, 1994). Established in 1850 in Bombay this is the oldest Catholic publication. It identifies itself as “the Catholic paper for every Catholic home”. Fr Lesser is based near Udaipur in the Rajasthan state. Fr Lesser’s assessment also appeared in The Statesman, August 1, 1994, published from Calcutta and New Delhi. He reviewed the book for The Times of India, August 7, 1994, which is printed from Bombay, Delhi, and a few other places In India. This review is a summary of The Examiner assessment. (b) Six articles by Dr Augustine Kanjamala that appeared in Maharashtra Herald, an English daily from Pune, Maharashtra. They appeared on July 13, 20, 27, August 3, 17 and 24, 1994. Dr Kanjamala is the secretary of the CBCI and was the convener of the Pune Consultation. (c) Shri Sarto Esteves wrote two articles in Herald, September 8 and 9, 1994. Herald is an English daily published from Panaji, Goa. Shri Esteves says that the articles “may help those who may like to know our views in brief on at least some of the issues raised in the book.” Who ‘our’ is, viz Shri Esteves or a group, is not clarified. Shri Esteves’ background is not known to me.

(d) Excerpts of an interview with Dr Kanjamala that appeared in Indian Currents, September 12, 1994, a Christian publication from Delhi. 1.3 There have been reviews/article written by people like Shri Kushwant Singh and Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar. Shri Shourie had anticipated their reaction when he wrote, “Had I urged the themes of this lecture to our ‘secularists’, they would have denounced them as ‘communal’, ‘chauvinist-fascist’, and having labelled them, they would have exempted themselves from considering what being said” (p xi). He also dwelt on the subject in a similar vein on pp 159-60. On account of this, the writings of such people is not being considered for the purpose of this note. 2. Perception of Shri Shourie’s book 2.1 All the Christian writers make essentially the same points. That Shri Shourie has quoted old sources, written by “British civil servants .... and some scholars and Protestant persons, all of whom in one way or another were providing soothing music to the ears of colonial masters...... (Esteves, September 8). That a large part of the book consists of quotes from such people. That Shri Shourie has shown no appreciation of the work done by the missionaries in the field of education, health, and other social issues. Dr Kanjamala alleges that even Mother Theresa has been attacked (Maharashtra Herald, July 13). That Shri Shourie has not recognised that the prime objective of the missionaries today is social justice and not conversions. In any case, conversion is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India. That things are very different today after the promulgation of Vatican II. That the lower castes’ desire to change their religion is because of their persecution by the upper caste Hindus. That lumping of all missionaries as one monolithic whole does not do justice to at least some of them. That the various government appointed committees on the activities of the missionaries in mid-1950s were headed by anti-Christian people. In addition, Shri Shourie has not looked at the answers given in “Truth Shall Prevail”, edited by Aloysius Soares and brought out by the Church in India. That it is false to allege that conversions were by inducements, since the Christian population in India is less than 4%. That tribals and others are animists, and therefore not Hindus. That Shri Shourie has not done hi s homework properly. 2.2 It is also alleged that Shri Shourie has a hidden agenda, unconnected with informing the people about the missionaries. It is well known that Shri Shourie is a critical votary of Hindutva, and has come out in support of issues like the Ram Janmabhoomi movement etc. Thus, we have Indian Current terming Shri Shourie’s criticism as biased, and identifying him as being ‘antagonistic to missionary activities’. Dr Kanjamala in the interview goes so far as to say that Shri Shourie’s book ‘can ignite communal tension’, and that it ‘does not make any positive contribution’. At the same time, Dr Kanjamala appreciates Shri Shourie’s ‘honesty and forthrightness’, and Fr Lesser has ‘a great respect for the courage, intelligence and journalistic skills of Shri Shourie’. 2.3 Out of the above, the one point which can be said to have some force is the fact that Shri Shourie has not considered the reply by the missionaries given to the government commissions. However, Shri Shourie clearly mentions that he does not find much difference between the attitudes of the missionaries today and that of the past. “The reader familiar with the conversations which missionaries had with Gandhiji will be struck how what these worthy men were saying now corresponded almost to the word to the questions that they used to ask sixty-seventy years ago of Gandhiji. And of course he would be reminded of how apt the answers Gandhiji gave then are to this very day.” (Shourie, p 237.) 3. Looking at all Missionaries as one

3.1 This note will consider all missionaries as one monolithic whole, since they all believe in the same prophet and the same book. The basic difference is that different groups have different ultimate controlling authority, and have different interpreters of what the book is supposed to say. In the paper, “Trends and Issues in Evangelisation in India”, submitted at the Pune Consultation by Dr Kanjamala, the figures for the Christian population does not distinguish between the various sects of Christianity. 3.2 Going back in history, Shri Shourie gives another reason why one would not be too much off the mark if all the missionaries are considered together. “‘Can you state to the (Select Committee on Indian Territories, 1853),’ the Right Reverend T Carr was asked, ‘how far the different agents and missionaries of the various Protestant communions in India agree, generally speaking with each other, in prosecuting their common work, without disturbing each other?’ Reverend Carr was categorical: In all missionary work,’ he said, ‘the missionaries labour in harmony, and, generally speaking, adopt one system’” (p 131). 4. Objective of Missionary activity 4.1 Like Shri Shourie, It is necessary to dwell into the past to understand why the missionaries are seen all over the world. As per their interpretation of what Jesus Christ s supposed to have said, they claim that they have been commanded by God to do so. This evolves from the basic tenet of Christianity which is that one has to believe in Jesus Christ as the only son of God to obtain an entry into heaven on this basis, all other religions are false, and, therefore, inferior Thus, to save the souls of all such unfortunate people, it is necessary to convert them into Christianity. 4.2 The growth of Christianity has been through state patronage, almost from its inception. When the world was being aggressively colonised, the Pope divided it into spheres of influence of Spain and Portugal, so that there was no unhealthy competition between the two, in the larger interest of converting the maximum number of people. For the rulers, a ‘loyal’ population made their task easier. Shri Shourie has quoted extensively from those who clearly stated that conversions would achieve both the objectives. And the reason he has quoted extensively is because “(t)he point is brought out better by the texts themselves than by any commentary that I could set out, and the texts are such an education, and in one case so electrifying a thing to read that it is best to read them in full” (p X). 4.3 It is highly debatable that if the missionaries did not have conversion as the prime objective, whether they would have moved out of their own countries. The question of social justice is only a guise to convert, and today is used as a justification for continuing their activities. 5. Is conversions necessary? 5.1 When asked this question today, the standard answer is that Article 25 of the Constitution permits the missionaries to do so, and therefore it is not a fair question. The part that is often quoted is “freely to profess, practice and propagate religion” (Esteves, September 8). The full text of Article 25 is, “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part (which sets out the fundamental rights) all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” The first portion of this article has been addressed by Shri Shourie in his book (pp 231-2). He asks, “In a secular country, why should the right to practice and propagate religion not be subjected to the same sorts of perimeters as apply to other secular rights (like the freedom of speech)?”

5.2 In this respect, it is very pertinent to read what Mahatma Gandhi said during his time. “If instead of confining themselves purely to humanitarian work such as education, medical services to the poor and the like, they would use these activities of their for the purpose of proselytising, I would certainly like them to withdraw. Every nation considers its own faith to be as good as that of any other. Certainly the great faiths held by the people of India are Adequate for her people. India stands in no need of conversion from one faith to another.” (M. K. Gandhi, “Foreign Missionaries,” Young India, April 23, 1931, p.83.) 5.3 At the same time, he was quite clear in his mind that there will be no legal restriction for the missionaries to proselytise. “In India under Swaraj I have no doubt that foreign missionaries will be at liberty to do their proselytising, as 1 would say, in the wrong way; but they would be expected to bear with those who like me, may point out that in their opinion the way is wrong.” (M K Gandhi, Foreign Missionaries Again, Young India, May 7, 1931, p 102.) Now there is Shri Shourie to point out, in his opinion, that the missionaries are wrong. 5.4 It was not only the Hindus who were agitated with the proselytising activities of the missionaries. When two young Parsees, who attended the school of Rev Dr John Wilson, the most outstanding of the missionaries, converted to Christianity in 1839 under his influence, a storm of indignation arose among the Parsees. They tried to win back the two converts with threats of violence and immense money offers. The Panchayat in vain - filed a suit before the High Court and threatened the British government in a petition that ‘if Government would not help there would be a terrible uprising in the country, and the results would be disastrous.’ (This is the first and only time that the otherwise completely loyal Parsees express these kinds of threats.) The number of pupils in Dr Wilson’s school (primarily Parsees) sank from 500 to 60-70.” In the footnote, we see a most interesting remark. “The Parsees’ embitterment was so great that Dadabhai Naoroji could not accept Sir Erskine Perry’s offer of going to England to study in 1845 because the community feared Naoroji’s conversion.” (The Parsees in India, Eckehard Kulke, Vikas Publishing, Delhi p 94.) 5.5 Such a reaction continues in modem times in various forms. We see a violent form in countries like Iran. In “Martyred for his Faith” (The Times, London, February 15, 1994), Shri Bernard Levin has written about the torture and murder of Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, a “leading figure of the Christian community in Iran”. He also mentions that the government there forced the non-Muslim faiths to sign a declaration that they were not persecuted for religious reasons, and “(t)hey also had to declare that they would not proselytise Muslims”. Shri Levin adds, “Almost all the representatives of the non-Muslim churches signed the document.” 5.6 The Christians also dislike their members embracing other religions. Shri Steven Gelberg of ISKCON, USA, has lucidly brought out this attitude in his article in the book Hindu-Christian Dialogue (Harold Coward, ed.). “ISKCON summer festivals in the streets and parks of major cities-have provoked the ire of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, who have come out to heckle from the sidelines with imposing banners proclaiming ‘Get Smart, Get Saved!’ and ‘Tarn or Burn!’” (p 139). 5.7 The following methods were suggested to wean the converts back to Christianity: “Parents wishing to extricate their adult offspring from the anti-Christian context of an organization like ISKCON can - if they’ve first exhausted all legal options, considered the risks and consulted with their pastor - perform Christian civil disobedience’: disregard whatever laws (for example, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault and battery) stand in the way, and rescue their son or daughter from the clutches of such a false, non-scriptural religion”. (Coward p 145, from “The Commission on Organizations: The ‘New Religions’,

Brainwashing and Deprogramming,” St. Louis: The Commission on Organizations, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, n.d., pp 4-5.) 5.8 Conversion in religion is not the same as conversion in politics. It does cause a tremendous amount of social tensions, and tends to make people feel ashamed of their past. In an article in a Christian monthly from Bombay, The Secular Citizen (June 94), entitled “Christian tribals of Gujarat - A grim picture” Prof Arvind Macwan says, “For people who have followed (a) way of life for centuries adapting to the new Christian way of life is very difficult.” Many of the converts in the North-East think that before the advent of Christianity, their ancestors were merely head-hunters. 5.9 In his Interview in Indian Currents, Dr Kanjamala says, “(Through) the process of Sanskritisation/Hinduisation, people of scheduled castes and tribes took the way to Sanskritisation in which socio-economic factors were powerful motives. Why can’t the same be permitted when they want to become Christians and undergo the process of Christianisation?” He makes an assumption that the scheduled castes and tribes were not Hindus in the first place. This issue has been dealt with by Shri Shourie when he discusses the difficulty that the British had in defining Animism in die Indian context (pp 186-96). Dr Kanjamala’s statement reinforces the view that there is a deliberate attempt to propagate a social system that did not exist to give a justification for the conversion activity of the missionaries. 5.10 More importantly, Shri M N Srinivas, who coined the word Sanskritisation’, was talking within the context of Hinduism, and has clearly shown that the caste system was not as rigid as it is made out to be. He said, “The tendency of the lower castes to imitate the higher has been a powerful factor in the spread of Sanskritic ritual and customs, and in the achievements of a certain amount of cultural uniformity not only throughout the caste scale, but over the entire length and breadth of India.” (Rudolph and Rudolph, The Modernity of Tradition, p 114. Quoted in Claude Alvares, Decolonising History, p 190.) 6. Conversions and social justice 6.1 It is argued that the lower castes have converted to Christianity only because the missionaries took up their case of social justice in terms of being exploited, particularly in land matters. It is also argued that if there was any material inducements used then the number of converts would have been much higher than the 4% that is seen in the country. The first argument has been dealt with when the basic objectives of the missionaries was discussed above. At best one can say that the achievement of bringing about social justice was accidental. Lack of social justice shows a failure of governance, and should be dealt with as such. The use of missionaries of some Hindu scriptures justifying the rigidity of caste system clearly shows their plan of vilification of Hindus. It completely ignores the tremendous efforts made by many Hindu reformists who also held Hinduism in high esteem. 6.2 In Christian Missions, Mahatma Gandhi said, “So far as I am concerned with the untouchability question, it is one of life and death of Hinduism. As I have said repeatedly, if untouchability lives, Hinduism perishes, and even India perishes; but if untouchability is eradicated from Hindu heart root and branch, then Hinduism has a definite message for the world.... (U)untouchability is a hideous untruth. My motive in launching the untouchability campaign is clear. What I am aiming at is not every Hindu touching an ‘untouchable’, but every touchable Hindu driving untouchability from his heart, going through a complete change of heart.” (P 92)

6.3 The social justice argument hides the fact that the missionaries went about converting the lower castes only when they found that they had no success in their efforts. Dr Kanjamala (July 20) and Fr Lesser (July 30) admit to the failure in converting the higher castes. In her book The Attitudes of. British Protestant Missionaries Towards Nationalism in India, Smt Elizabeth Susan Alexander, pointed out that the Missionaries first concentrated on the higher castes, whose conversion would automatically ‘encourage’ others to follow suit (p7). That this did not happen is a historical fact. The Missionaries realised that the higher castes were in fact impediments to their conversion activity, because of the strong reformist and nationalist trend in them (p67). When the urban orientation did not yield the result, concentration was on the rural areas (p79, fn57). This strategy of converting the opinion makers was successfully implemented in many other, countries. 6.4 The 4% argument can be made to stand on its head, because it can also be said that there is no desperate need for social justice. This would not be entirely correct, just as what the missionaries say is not correct. But what the argument does not reveal is that these 4% are concentrated in a few areas, which also have social, political and security tensions. When some participants of the Consultation objected to the accusation of creating political unrest, Shri Shourie said, “(A)ssume that the charge is unfair The way to meet it is to be in the forefront of combating secessionism and violence in that area. Is the Church active on that count?” (p 235) 6.5 The Church has to address a few more issues when it talks about social justice. If Christianity is an egalitarian system, then why do we see problems in Christian countries all over the world? Why is there tension in the Church in India with the so-called Dalit Christians? A related issue is why is there decline in attendance to the Church in the developed countries? And why is the Church not able to attract sufficient people to join their seminaries in these countries? How much of the Church funding comes from within India? Lack of social justice is a secular problem, not a religious one. 6.6 The propagation of social justice and social service is not a monopoly of the missionaries. Hindu organisations have been at it much before the missionaries came to India. Because of a lack of a centralised authority, the Hindus do not keep statistics of the work done by the whole society. The myth that the Hindus do nothing for their less fortunate brethren has to be discarded. In fact, one can say that the missionaries in India have not succeeded in their true objective is primarily because of the positive actions of the Hindu society. 6.7 It should also be recognised that many of the institutes run by the missionaries, like Mother Theresa’s, receive substantial funds from the Hindus and the government. Similarly, the government also gives assistance to the schools and colleges run by the missionaries. It is to the credit of the Hindus that they recognise good work when it is done. The agitation against conversion is mainly due to the manner in which it is being done, particularly the mass activity in the tribal areas, where tensions are created. 7. Are things really differents today? 7.1 Shri Shourie is accused of flogging a dead horse by quoting from the past, and that he does not recognise the changes that have taken place, particularly since Vatican II, which was proclaimed in the 1960s. (A similar accusation can also be made against the missionaries, when they keep on harping on the evils of the caste system. The Hindu society has accepted a system which makes untouchability illegal. That the practice continues today has nothing to do with the essence of Hinduism.) It is necessary to understand what has changed and what has not.

7.2 The basic tenet of Christianity that the route to salvation is only through Jesus Christ has not changed. The Church does not reject “what is true and holy in these religions” (Vatican Council II, Austin Flannery, General Editor, St Paul’s Publications, Bombay, p 654). Not rejecting is qualitatively different from accepting. What is more important to notice is that the Church’s infallibility cannot be disputed. “Yet she proclaims and is duty bound to proclaim without fall, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (in 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life” (ibid, p 654). A similar sentiment was expressed by the Anglican Church in England when Prince Charles wanted to be protectors of all faiths. Lord Coggan, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, said, “If he is saying Christianity is equal with other religions, we should differ profoundly from him. As men we are all equal before God, but are you talking about religions and saying one is as good as another? I hope he is not saying that” (Sunday Times, London, June 26, 1994). 7.3 The Vatican II repeats from the Bible that Jesus Christ “sent the apostles into the whole world, commanding them: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28:19 ff); ‘Go into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe, shall be condemned’ (Mk 16:15 ff)” (Vatican Council II, p 719). The original objectives of missionaries, viz to save the soul, still finds official sanction. 7.4 It is explicitly stated that “...the reason for missionary activity lies in the will of God ‘who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, himself a man, Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all’ (1 Tim 2:4-5), ‘neither is their salvation in any other’ (Acts 4:12). Everyone, therefore, ought to be converted to Christ, who is known through preaching of the Church, and they ought, by baptism, become’ incorporated into him and into the Church which is his body” (ibid, p 722). 7.5 So what has changed? The methods have changed. When asked by the efforts made to convert him and his family when they went to missionary schools, Shri Shourie says in his book....... no missionary would have been so imprudent to calumnise Hinduism the way missionaries used to do two generations earlier, even In the early fifties; no missionary organisation functioning in a metropolitan city would have thought it prudent to attempt conversions overtly” (p 233). The important question is whether this change has been of heart or strategy. 7.6 The propaganda of institutes like the Pandita Rambai Mukti Mission also makes one wonder if things are really different. After the earthquake tragedy in Latur, Maharashtra, in 1993, they sent out a pamphlet to the United States for the purpose of fund raking. The relevant section says, “The Mission sent a medical team and staff to the devastated areas shortly after the earthquake occurred. Returning from the first trip, they met three men, who then travelled with them. While they made no commitments, the men were uncharacteristically open to the claims of Christ. Pray there will be increasing openness and a great spiritual harvest following this tragedy .... Pray that God will bring whomever he desires to Mukti.” It is uncanny how close these words are in similar instances in the past when certain areas were struck with natural calamities. At Latur, the missionaries tried to distribute Bible and other religious material. But, due to the controversy that it created, such activity has been kept at a low level. Contrast this with the work done by the Hindu organisations in similar situations. 7.7 The India Bible Literature, Madras, publishes a series of Students Work Book for Children’s Bible Schools. In one of them it says that since the Christian population in India is

only 4%, it means that 96% of the people do not know the true god. In another it has a drawing with a caption “Paul is preaching about the real God to those who are worshiping artificial Gods.” Interestingly, the picture shows Paul with a group of tribals, and the artificial Gods are those depicted in the normal Hindu scriptures. The disturbing part is that such statements appear only in the Indian language books, and not in the English version. 7.8 When asked by the missionaries what should be done, “Gandhi’s advice was fivefold, and it remains as pertinent today. The best thing of course is that you give up conversion altogether, he said .... Second, if you must, direct your efforts to those who are in a position to assess these matters; do not make the poor and illiterate and desperate the targets of your campaign.... Third, even for (conversions), Gandhiji said, it would be better for nonIndian missionaries to return to their countries and attend to problems there .... Fourth, in doing any kind of work among the people, Gandhiji counseled the missionaries, compliment the faith of the people, do not undermine it. Do not denationalise them .... Finally, instead of the life of the Church, live the life of Jesus, of piety, of the Sermon on the Mount. Let that life, that example persuade people to embrace Christianity if they will, not these vending machines.” (Shourie, pp 37-9.) 7.9 Similarly, Shri Shourie has also identified five conditions which will convince the people that things have changed. “First, we will know that the Church has truly changed when it undertakes and disseminates an honest accounting of the calumnies it heaped on India and on Hinduism .... The second thing to look for would be the extent to which the Church acquaints in India as well as the groups it is aiming at with the results of scholarly work on the two central claims of the Church - that the Bible is the revealed word of God, that it is wholly free of error; and that the Church, in particular the Pope is infallible .... The third bit of litmus would be: what is the extent to which the Church in India is disseminating information among its flock and its target groups about the consequences of (the scientific) developments have for its basic premises? ... The fourth bit of litmus would be the extent to which the Church overcomes its present tremulous anxieties regarding dialogue and the opening up to other faiths .... Finally, of course there is the question of conversions. In view of the fact, now proclaimed by the Church, that salvation is possible in each religion, what is the ground for converting people to Christianity, in particular by the sorts of means which we saw are in use in the NorthEast to this day?” (Shourie, pp 229-30). 7.10 Will the Church repudiate, by name, all those who have calumnised Hinduism? This should not be difficult to do, since all the Christian writers admit that things in the past were not in a happy state. This repudiation will send a signal to the Hindus that the Church does not associate itself with the calumnies of the past, in the same way that the Germans do not with respect to the Nazis. In his article, “The 500th year: A time of rediscovery and rededication” (The Examiner, January 16, 1993), Shri Briston Fernandes says, “Celebrating the Quincentenary presents a moral as well as a spiritual dilemma. Extolling the virtues of Columbus’ feat without understanding the tragedies visited upon Native American people and African slaves snatched from their homeland to be exploited for European enrichment would be an outrage. The consequences of the native people who inhabited the conquered lands were catastrophic..... (The) system of exploitation was also justified on the basis of religion. The power of the Church was called upon to undertake the legitimating task.” 8. Missionaries and Hindu reform 8.1 One of the beneficial effect of missionaries on Hinduism is that it spurred the reforms within the society. The reformists took due note of the criticism made by the missionaries and set about to make the necessary corrections from within. That this was successful is also one of the reasons why the missionaries have been able to convert only a

small percentage of the population in India. But, reform movements in Hinduism have been the rule rather than exception. In some cases, it was due to some external pressures, while in other cases it was due to an internal churning and recognition of the wrongs being done. Hinduism has also assimilated various influences from those who came here peacefully and those who came here by force. Invaders like Shuka and Huns have been thoroughly merged in the mainstream. Others like the Jews and the Parsis are able to live to live side-by-side with the Hindus with no antagonism from either side. 8.2 What was the reaction of the missionaries to these reform movements? When Mahatma Gandhi undertook his programme of doing justice to the Harijans, the missionaries complained to him. “Your anti-untouchability campaign has disturbed some of our missionary friends, Gandhiji was told, it ‘is taking away from the Missionary’s popularity.’ ‘I see what you mean, ‘Gandhiji said, ‘but I do not know why it should disturb you. We are not traders trenching on one another’s province .... (M)y trouble is that the Missionary friends do not bring to bear on their work a, purely humanitarian spirit. Their objective is to add more numbers to their fold, and that is why they are disturbed.”’ (Shourie, pp 203-4.) 8.3 It is for this reason that Shri Shourie commented that “(i)n chasing numbers the missionaries, to use Gandhiji’s words, became ‘just vendors of goods’. And they came to adopt the usual techniques of vendors: the exaggerations common in advertising wares, targeting the sections that would be most susceptible, targeting them at times when they would be most vulnerable, or receptive if you will, using not just dialogue but allurement and violence” (p 15). 8.4 That this attitude continues even today can be seen from The Thailand Report on Hindus, prepared by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation, after a meeting at Pattaya in June 1980. “The missionary vision of some Hindus is posing a threat to Christian evangelistic activities.” This feeling is prevalent in almost all missionary organisations in India today. 8.5 The efforts of the government also receive similar treatment. “(W)hile they were not able to prevent the Government from extending medical, educational and other measures to the tribal areas, those who have been projecting the point of view of the missionaries have aimed at discrediting such efforts in these areas of non-official agencies which would come in the way of conversions” (Shourie, p 205). 9. Dialogue 9.1 Shri Shourie was invited to give a Hindu perception. To the question in Indian Currents, “Knowing well that Shri Shourie is antagonistic to missionary activities why did you invite him?”, Dr Kanjamala replied, “It is easy to get speakers who appreciate us. Christianity has grown well enough to take criticism. So we need people who also challenge us. Only encounter with such can make us really enter into practical/real dialogue in the pluri-religious context of India.” (The rest of the interview does not reflect these sentiments, nor do the writings of the other writers.) 9.2 In The Thailand Report, the manner of conducting an inter-religious dialogue has been unambiguously stated. “The use of dialogue in reaching people has to be carefully considered.... It must lead to proclaiming Christ as Lord.... The purpose of dialogue should be carefully and constantly borne in mind. It should not end in dialogue.” Cardinal Arinze, president of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Christians, in the opening lines of the latest official declaration on “Urgency of Dialogue with Non-Christians” said, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made man, is our saviour .... He ascended to heaven but not before he had carefully prepared his apostles to bring salvation to all men, of all times, in all places .... Inter-religious

dialogue would be unnecessary if all men believed in Jesus Christ and practiced only the religion which he established.” (Origins, pp 641-50, Quoted in Coward, p 267.) 9.3 Shri Esteves says, “One of the truths of Vatican II has clarified is that all those who believe that Christ is the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind, and strive to live according to the plan unfolded by him, will be saved even if they have been practising a religion other than Christianity, but have had the desire to know the Redeemer and do his will. In other words, if they have had what is popularly known as the baptism of desire” (September 8). Shri Shourie has already dealt with an identical issue in his book (pp 216-7). It is quite clear that the Vatican II believes that salvation cannot be achieved if one does not believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God, irrespective of his belief in, say, Lord Ram. But what happens to one to whom the message of Jesus Christ has not reached? And what happens to one to whom the message has reached, but does not do Christ’s will to proselytise? It would appear that both such people will not be saved. 9.4 The sustained campaign to denigrate Shri Shourie creates suspicion about the motives of the missionaries. He had received a letter from Dr Kanjamala in which the latter expressed “thanks in the warmest words...... Your talk was scholarly as well as challenging. The fact that the audience wanted to continue the discussion after you had spent nearly two hours with them shows the keen interest the audience had in the subject and your critique of the Christian mission. May I request you to give the presentation in writing. I intend to publish the talks of various speakers of this Consultation........... (p xii). 9.5 Shri Shourie concludes his book such: “‘It has been a feast,’ said Dr P Ramchandran, formerly of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who had been presiding over the session, as he wound up the exchange. As we dispersed for tea the exchanges continued, as did the banter: ‘He knows more about Christianity than your students,’ Archbishop Mathias of Bangalore told Bishop Valeran D’Souza of Pune, teasing him and me. ‘He knows more about Christianity,’ said the latter who oversees one of the best seminaries in our country, ‘than many of our professors!’....The things I had been saying were hardly the things that the Archbishop, the Bishops and the scholars assembled there agreed with, they were certainly not the things that they would find agreeable. But, as I recalled at the beginning, they heard me out in pindrop silence, and with unbroken patience. They told me unambiguously that they did not agree with what I had said. Several of their observations left no doubt that they were put out by what I had said. But they pasted no motive. They were courteous and the very models of dignity and decorum throughout. I left feeling I had been among friends. If only we could learn at least this one thing from them: if we could only learn how to disagree. How much better off our country would be.” (Emphasis added, pp 241-2.) 9.6 With the treatment that he is now receiving from the writers, Shri Shourie must have changed his opinion by now! Fr Lesser regrets that he has used his courage, intelligence and Journalistic skills to “bite the hand that fed him” (The Examiner, July 30). Dr Kanjamala said that Shri Shourie was ‘critical, forthright but sober’ at the Pune Consultation, implying that he was not sober in the book. In the same interview, he said, “Except that it can ignite communal tension, this book does not make any positive contribution.” (Indian Currents.) 9.7 The manner in which the missionaries have handled the issues raised in the book, makes one wonder if they have any intention to have a real dialogue in India. Much of what has been written by the above authors has been dealt with by Shri Shourie in his book. They are free to disagree with him. But instead of repeating the same points, they should have gone forward from where Shri Shourie left, and say why they disagree with him. Otherwise, we will be at the same position as before the book was written. This is not progress.

9.8 Shri Shourie predicted how the ‘secularists’ would react. I have dealt with this in 1.3 above. “The reaction of the Bishops, senior clergy and scholars gathered at Pune was the exact opposite. The listened with unwavering attention. They told me clearly that they did not agree with much of what I had said. They spelled out their reasons. But then they listened with the same attention to what I had to say in return” (p xi). One has to wonder why there is a change in the attitude when the book came out. 9.9 It also makes one wonder why is it that they are afraid? Is it that if the true tenets of Christianity and its methods are explicitly stated they will find themselves in the same predicament in India as in the developed countries? Or is the intention to ‘warn’ the Christians that their religion is under attack by the Hindu ‘communalists’, and if they do not come more closely under the umbrella of the Church, they will be in grave danger? September 1994

Appendix IV Comments of Ashok Chowgule on the Articles “Christians Awake” by Shri Hansel D’Souza

Introduction As a prelude to his article, Shri Hansel D’Souza says that his article (The Secular Citizen, Bombay, June 95) is a result of his discussion with a group that subscribes to the Sangh parivar’s ideology. I am a member of this group. When I read the article, the first thought that came to my mind is how the article would have been any different before he started this dialogue. Based on my reading of the writings of others dealing with issues similar to the ones handled by Hansel, I find there is a great deal of similarity in his perception and the perception of the others. The latest such example is the guest editorial in The Examiner (July 8, 1995), the oldest Church publication in India. I understand the author of this editorial works in the office of the Archbishop of Delhi. I had an impression that Hansel had a favourable perception of at least the theory of the ideology. It would now appear that I was wrong. Hansel’s first difference is his recommendation to the Christians to study Shri Arun Shourie’s book (Missionaries in India, 1993, ASA Publications), even though he does not agree in toto with Shri Shourie. It is well documented the calumny that has been heaped on Shri Shourie by the Church and the Christians, some of whom claimed that they had not read the book. Amongst those who did, some even tried to spread mistruths like Shri Shourie did not even ‘spare’ Mother Teresa in his criticism. One of them is Father Kanjamala, the exSecretary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India. Another accused Shri Shourie of labeling Mother Teresa as perfumed scorpion. The second difference that I could perceive is his admission that there are, after all, some sins that the Church needs to acknowledge. The third is that there is an alienation of those who have been through English education, be the person a Christian or a Hindu. The reader must realise that many of my comments herein had been brought to the notice of Hansel in the discussions that we have had. Hansel’s article made me re-read the book Catholic Ashrams (Sita Ram Goel, Second Edition, 1994, Voice of India, Delhi), and I intend to quote from it. This book was given to Hansel’s group as part of our dialogue. I could also quote from other books, particularly those written by Christians themselves. But, Catholic Ashrams is sufficient. With this introduction I would like to address the way Hansel has

handled the four points that he has raised, and then make some general comments of my own. Although I have summarised Hansel’s article, the whole is enclosed herewith as Annexure A. The editorial in The Examiner is enclosed as Annexure B. Conversions by Christian missionaries Hansel would like us to believe that conversion is due to the action of ‘misguided zeal of a fanatical few’. He also says, ‘However backward, poor and marginalised a tribal may be, it would be foolish to assume that he lacks the intelligence to discern the motives of an ardent missionary and for a bowl of rice or a yard of cloth relinquish his beliefs of centuries.’ At the same time, Hansel would like us to believe that whatever little ‘wrongs’ that were done in the past, things are different today. He says that the Church, post-Vatican Council II, is now veering to the philosophy that’ like all human beings, every religion is equal’. He also says that Pope John Paul II has firmly rejected the concept of proselytism during his recent visit to Sri Lanka. He points out that, in a letter to Roman Catholics, the Pope has asked his flock to acknowledge ‘its sins over the past 2000 years, including intolerance in the name of religion and complicity in crimes against human rights’. He would have us believe that Mother Teresa has never converted any Hindus. But, he makes a fervent plea to the Church to set out ‘strict guidelines in matter of acceptance of new entrants to the Faith and formulate a code for ethical propagation of the faith’. Hansel has negated the history of missionary activity in India, and, by implication, in the rest of the world. The bloody record has been documented by the historians of the missionaries, not only in recent writings, but even in contemporary documents. If there is negation of history, then dialogue becomes impossible, and issues will be settled by unpleasant means. The blame should squarely lie on those negating the history, and not those who react. Shri Shourie has brought out Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts on the subject of conversion, and some quotes are appropriate. “In chasing numbers the missionaries, to use Gandhiji’s words, became just ‘vendors of goods’. And they came to adopt the usual techniques of vendors: the exaggerations common in advertising wares, targeting them at time when they would be most vulnerable, or receptive if you will, using not just dialogue but allurement and violence.” (Shourie, p 15.) On the question of Hansel’s ‘foolish assumption’, this is what Shri Shourie has Mahatma Gandhi saying, “Men and women do not seek fellowship of the Christian Church. Poor Harijans are no better than the others. I wish they had spiritual hunger. Such as it is, they satisfy by visits to the temples, however crude they may be. When the missionary of another religion goes to them he goes like any other vendor of goods. He has no special spiritual merit that will distinguish him form those to whom he goes. He, however, possesses material goods which he promises to those who will come to his fold.” (Shourie, pp 237-8.) A further quote of Mahatma Gandhi is appropriate: “In India under Swaraj I have no doubt that foreign missionaries will be at liberty to do their proselytising, as I would say, in the wrong way; but they would be expected to bear with those who like me, may point out that in their opinion the way is wrong.” (Young India, May 7, 1991 ) More importantly, it should be recognised that conversions create a tremendous amount of social tensions. When some European Vedantists, learning that mother Theresa was at the Vatican, went to pay their respects, she rebuked them for ‘betraying Christ’. During his visit to South America in October 1992, Pope John Paul II had said that one of the objectives of his was to protect his flock against the wolves of protestantism. Here is a case of a person changing his faith from one branch of Christianity to another. Now, if Protestant missionaries

in South America are wolves, what are they and the Catholic missionaries in India? One can give many other examples of how other religions and communities view conversions. The harm that religious conversions has done to local cultures has to be recognised, not negated. The Pope in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, said, “One should known one’s own spiritual heritage well and consider whether it is right to set it aside lightly.” (Of course, the Pope said this in context of cautioning the Christians on certain aspects of Buddhism. For the Pope sees conversion as a one-way movement.) One does wonder if Hansel wishes to follow the injunction of the Pope on him to ‘acknowledge (the Church’s) sins over the past 2000 years’. (The same thought occurs when one reads other sections of his article.) At the same time, he does raise the question that if the Pope is against proselytising, would the Church negate Matt 28:19. (“Jesus drew near and said to them, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”’) Of course, one would like to see the negation of many other parts of the Bible, to really accept the Pope’s words at their face value. It must be recognised that these injunctions are printed (and taught) in a post-Vatican II era, when the thinking is supposed to be pluralistic. As far as acknowledgment of past sins, one has to see the way the Pope handled the question of his derogatory remarks on Buddhism in his book Threshold of Hope. During his trip to Sri Lanka, the Buddhist clergy refused to meet him unless he offered an apology. This was not forthcoming. In India, the Church must come forward and acknowledge the harm that has been done by people like Francis Xavier. In a brief exchange of letters between the Archbishop of Delhi and the President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, there is the same negation that Hansel exhibits. The Archbishop has also challenged Shri Shourie to prove each and every point that the latter has written in his book. That Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Charity have never converted Hindus is yet another case of negation. The television programme Hell’s Angel shown in Britain on Mother Theresa provoked so much adverse reaction, that the producer wrote in an article in the Guardian Weekly (November 13, 1994, London, “The saintly glow goes from Mother Teresa) stating his case. Apart form other things, he said, “In an unremarked part of her celebrated conversation with Malcolm Muggeridge, Mother Teresa had made it even more plain that her work was not for its own sake, but was part of an effort at proselytisation.” Similarly, in another television programme in the United States in January 1985, the Dayspring International, an evangelical organisation, described India as land of ‘division, despair and death’. It presented Indians as ‘without spiritual hope’ and quoted Mother Teresa as holding that India was ‘in dire need of Jesus’. (Ashrams pp 174 and 228.) In spite of all his verbose explanation, Hansel felt it necessary to make a plea to the Church on setting out guidelines for conversions. This is indeed a very inconsistent position, and one finds it difficult to understand the motives. But, such inconsistencies abound in the article, and one is forced to come to a conclusion that the objective is to confuse rather than enlighten. Denigration of Hinduism by Christians Hansel would like us to believe that this was the work of European missionaries and colonial agents ‘with a misguided zeal of “civilising” the colonies’. Once again, Hansel would like us to believe that post-Vatican II the situation is vastly different, and that the Church ‘has no choice but to accept that the calumny of the past was a grievous error on the part of over-

zealous crusaders for the Faith’. He also would like us to believe that the prime objective of missionaries today is involvement in ‘the day to day struggle of our people for justice, dignity and a better way of life’. He also says that ‘for a Catholic living in pluralistic society like India, it is an entirely different experience from that of the Catholic living in almost a monotheist western nation’. (It would be interesting to know what the difference is.) He avers, ‘Only when we learn to live with genuine respect for each other’s faith can we grow’. Once again we see negation of history. By labeling the missionaries as ‘European’ he has completely absolved the Church of any blame. If true, then why should the Church accept the blame of these ‘over-zealous crusaders of the Faith’? After all, they went against the instructions of the Church, did they not, Hansel? Their actions were ‘anathema to the basic teachings of Christ’, were they not, Hansel? The truth is that the ‘European’ character of the missionaries is incidental - what is important is their Christian character. The denigration and calumny is being continued by the Indian missionaries. They were, and are, doing what the Bible enjoins them to do, and what the Church tells them to do. One should read the Christian publications in India, and abroad, to understand that the plan of calumny is not a ‘grievous error’ but a deliberate effort. The pluralism is just not there in the Vatican II, or in the recent apostolic letter of the Pope, or in what the Archbishop of Delhi has to say. Like the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church does not really believe all religions are equal. As regards the new theory of the missionaries’ objective being social justice, the best way to prove would be for the Church to set an example from within itself. Are the Dalit Christians (surely, a contradiction in terms) properly treated by their own community and by the Church? Is there social justice in countries with Christian majorities? And, if this is the prime objective, why does the Church not stop all conversions? This is what Mahatma Gandhi said to the missionaries when they said the same thing about social justice to him. Shri Shourie’s book covers this extensively. An accidental redeeming value is clearly no justification. That this new theory is designed to fit into the propaganda of today has been confirmed by Dr Raimundo Pannikar, Professor Emeritus of the University of California, an ordained priest and a Christian theologian. “(W)ere it not for the fact of the political decolonisation of the world, we would not be speaking the way we are doing today.” (Ashrams, p 180.) Bishop Stephen Nell tells us that a “century of experience suggests that the missions were right in their decision..... In thousands of villages where there was a Christian nucleus, the village teacher served also as a catchiest, carrying out many of the duties which in older churches rest on ordinary ministry. About a third of the cost of educational work was borne by the private agencies, two thirds by the Government.” He further adds that “even in independent India .... the old order has continued in being without radical modification.” (Ashrams, p 235.) Ashrams (p 181) narrates an incident which conveys what the Church really thinks of this social justice. “At a recent International Conference of Mission Work in Rome, Cardinal Josef Tomko criticised (liberation) theologians like (Paul) Knitter (Professor of Theology at the University of Cincinnati, USA) for being more occupied with ‘social work’ and ‘inter-religious dialogue’ than with announcing the Gospel. The answer to this criticism by one truly pluralist was obvious: that announcing the Gospel was redundant, that it was even arrogant, that other people do not need a Christian Gospel and probably many of them have a Gospel of their own as good as the Bible. But Dr Knitter’s answer was different. ‘We are not saying outreach evangelisation should only consist of action of human welfare but we are saying that working for human welfare, is an essential part of the work .... It is essential to the Gospel of Christ’, he

said. Missionary strategist will have no difficulty in agreeing with this view. They already know that ‘social work’ is a great aid to proselytisation.” The social justice alibi is also clearly exposed when one sees from history that the missionaries first tried to convert the upper castes, which would then set examples for the lower castes to emulate. (This has been the technique, successfully used, all over the world. In Akbar’s court, the Church envoy made strenuous effort to convert him, and paid very little attention to his subjects.) Having failed in the plan to convert the Brahmins, and to justify the continuation of the missionary activity, they turned to the lower castes. This also proves the charge of ‘rice converts’ since the upper caste alone could have converted on the basis of an intellectual study. I agree with Hansel that there should be ‘genuine respect for each other’s faith’ so that the country can progress. In context of Hindu-Christian dialogue, this has to be addressed to the Christians, since the record of Hindus for genuine respect is quite clear. When the Jews and the Parsis came here due to religious persecution, their faith was respected by the Hindus, who are proud that it is only in India that the Jews were not oppressed in any way, a fact that is officially recognised in the Jewish history. Today, the holy place for Parsis is not Iran, from where they came, but India, where they received succor like nowhere else. The same can be said for Syrian Christians, who behaved in an exemplary manner until the arrival of the Portuguese and their armed forces. Can Hansel show similar examples in Christian countries, or where Christians went? Hindus do not need to be taught how to respect other religions. Cultural alienation of Christians in India Hansel does admit that a large number of Christians suffer from cultural alienation. He also says that ‘Hindu students from an Urban English medium school’ suffer from the same defect. He brings in the question of De Nobili’s plan of inculturation and that ‘a certain section of Indian society felt perfectly at home with professing the Christian faith while retaining their indigenous culture’. He says that ‘the solution once again boils down to coexistence’ and that ‘the answer to (those who suspect Christian’s commitment to Indian nationalism) is that the contribution of Indian Christians to the nation’s development is disproportionate to their numbers’. Hansel identifies the schools causing the alienation as English medium schools, and not as missionary schools. In one of our meetings, he had proudly said that 80% of all the schools are run by missionaries. I had corrected him that it was 80% of the English medium schools at best. Is hiding the missionary management yet another attempt at negation, Hansel? The cultural alienation comes about due to the distorted way history is taught to our Children. The source of this distortion is the calumny that has been heaped on Hinduism by the missionaries, and those with a missionary zeal. It all starts with the so-called Aryan invasion theory, which is supposed to have laid the foundation of Brahmanism and the ‘evil’ caste system. Much before the calumny plan was put into effect this is what Abbe Dubois, who came to India for the purpose of proselytisation, wrote,: “I have heard some persons, sensible in other respects, but imbued with all the prejudices that they have brought with them from Europe, pronounce what appears to me an altogether erroneous judgment in the matter of caste divisions among the Hindus. In their opinion, caste is not only useless to the body politic, it is also ridiculous, and even calculated to bring trouble and disorder on the people. For my part, having lived many years on friendly terms with the Hindus, I have been able to study their national life and character closely, and I have arrived at a quite opposite decision on this subject of caste. I believe caste division to be in many respects the chef-d’ oeuver, the happiest effort of Hindu legislation. I am persuaded that it is simply and solely due to the distribution of

the people into castes that India did not lapse into a state of barbarism, and that she preserved and perfected the arts and sciences of civilisation whilst most other nations of the earth remained in a state of barbarism. I do not consider caste to be free from many great drawbacks; but I believe that the resulting advantages, in the case of a nation constituted like the Hindus, more than outweigh the resulting evils.” (Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, Rupa & Co., pp 30-31.). For missionary activity to succeed, it is obvious that the caste system must be presented as utterly and completely evil. Similarly, for the same success, the past of the people who are sought to be converted has to be negated. In the North-East, the people are taught that their forefathers were head hunters. That this perverted history still continues to be taught is one of the greatest calumny on Hinduism - and for this the blame lies not only with the missionaries, but also those who are supposed to decide how history is to be taught. As regards De Nobili, Shri Hansel is unable to tell what his real objectives were. (Christian propaganda would have us believe that the Brahmins were oppressors. Yet De Nobili tried to project himself as a Roman Brahmin, and even forged papers to prove his identity. Curious!) So let me enlighten him. In the Editor’s introduction of Abbe Dubois book, we come across the following: “(T)he chief cause (of Abbe Dubois’ disillusionment with the lack of success of his missionary effort) undoubtedly was the invincible barrier of what we may call nowadays intellectual Hinduism, but which the Abbe called Brahmanical prejudice. He refers regretfully to the collapse of the Church, with its hundreds of thousands of converts, many of them of high caste, established by the Jesuits Beschi and de Nobili in Madurai; but at the same time he made no concealment of the real causes of their failure. ‘The Hindus soon found that those missionaries whom their colour, their talents, and other qualities had induced them to regard as such extraordinary beings, as men coming from another world, were in fact nothing else but disguised Feringhis (Europeans), and that their country, their religion, and original education were the same as those of the evil, the contemptible Feringhis who had of late invaded their country. This event proved the last blow to the interests of the Christian religion. No more conversions were made. Apostasy became almost general in several quarters, and Christianity became more and more an object of contempt and aversion in proportion as European manners became better known to the Hindus.”’ (p xxvii.) This deception continues today in the so-called inculturation programme. On the question of coexistence, once again Hansel should realise that the onus is on Christians. It is they who have been spreading the calumny, and unless one sees a proper recognition of the past, the future is quite bleak. Christianity has not assimilated itself with the Hindu culture, in the way that the Shukas and Huns have done. The fault is with the Christians, and not the Hindus. In the context of the controversy on Satanic Verses, Shri Clifford Longley wrote, “The very presence of Muslims (in Britain) can only be on terms which are acceptable to the majority.” Finally, in this section, let me deal with the contribution of Christian to India. (There are many Christians who support the Sangh parivar’s ideology. What does Hansel make of their Christianity?) The real question that has to be addressed is whether this contribution is due to their faith, or a secular characteristics. If the former, then what drives a Christian to The Church, of course. And what is this Church? It consists of the Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the priests, and all those who run the organisation. The Pope says that many Cardinals and Bishops proposed the following theme for the first year, 1997, when the celebration for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 is due to begin: “Jesus Christ, the one saviour of the world, yesterday, today, and for ever.” (Emphasis added.) The effect of all this is that the clergy can have a tremendous power over their flock, because they can, technically, refuse to intercede between a Christian and God. Of course, this power of intercessionary is never refused, because the use

itself will eliminate it - the person can go to someone else for the intercession. But, the person cannot be sure of this, and so is fearful. A classic case of Catch-22! Many times when my group pointed out issues that need to be taken up with the Church, we found that there was reluctance on part of Hansel’s group to confront the hierarchy. This is strange considering the claimed openness of Vatican II. But old habits die hard. Brahmabandhab, the converted Hindu missionary who tried to reintroduce the methods of De Nobili, said in context to a dispute he had with the Indian Church hierarchy: Roma locutta est causa finita est (Rome has spoken, the cause has ended). (Ashrams, p 37.) As a Hindu believing in Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudda Vadanti, I fail to understand why I need any one to intercede between me and God. Why can I not have a direct line to Him? While a person, on his own volition, may well choose Christ as his mediator, to insist that he is the one mediator takes away man’s freedom to determine his own destiny. At the same time, I feel it necessary to read the various scriptures, and their interpretations. After all, not every one can be expected to work out the nuances of the various philosophies, and help from others is always welcome. The great Hindu sages do not provide a unique path to salvation, but a general guideline for it. For this reason, one who keeps a deity of Hanuman in one’s house, has no problem of praying to Ganesh. As a Hindu, I will also debate and interpret what all scriptures have to say. I find Hansel’s reluctance to do so baffling, particularly when he wishes that the Christians awake. (Does Hansel repudiate Matt 28:19, in view of the Pope’s statement against proselytisation?) I am guided by what Mahatma Gandhi had to say on the subject: “My belief in the Hindu scriptures does not require me to accept every word and every verse as divinely inspired .... I decline to be bound by any interpretation, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason or moral sense.” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol XXI, p 246.) Time and again, I have accused Hansel of negating history. I am sure that the question that he would like to ask is why do we need to bother about history, particularly if it is unpleasant? Will it not stand in the way of progressing forward? History has to be truthfully told, because we have to learn from it, and not make the same mistakes as in the past. Mistakes are avoided only when we recognise them as such. After a correct rendering of history, it lays the groundwork to discuss what lessons to learn from it. Negation also means that those who are descendants of the group that has caused harm do not wish to recognise that the descendants of those to whom the harm has been done have a genuine reason to feel hurt about the past. The objective is not to ask the present generation to ‘pay’ for the mistakes of their ancestors - but this objective can be achieved only when the present generation distances itself away from the actions of their ancestors. The Hindus have a genuine reason to ask why Francis Xavier is revered by the Christians today. The way the present-day Germans have recognised the harm done by Hitler’s generation is an admirable characteristic, and one that needs to be emulated. In its Leader, “Remembering Auschwitz”, The Economist (London, January 28, 1995) wrote: “The ‘relativists’ in Germany, who argue that the Holocaust was just one exceptionally dreadful horror in a long list of human misdeeds, that many Germans suffered as badly as the Jews, and that - by implication - it is time to accept that the redemptive debt has been paid, are sadly wrong. True, modem Germany has been admirably relentless in its confession of mea culpa. But humble self-analysis should be an eternal process for all mature nations. The Japanese, belatedly and less rigorously, are beginning to teach their children the truth, in outline, about wartime atrocities. The Russians have furthest to go in examining the degree to which they, as people, were complicit in Stalin’s crimes. For Germans especially, the stain of the Holocaust can never - should never - be erased.”

In our discussions with Hansel and his group, we have been informed that the present Pope, John Paul II, is ultra conservative. And yet, he quotes approvingly from the apostolic letter on the question of the Church recognising the sins of the past 2000 years, and the rejection of proselytism. Such inconsistencies has made it difficult for my group to present our views in a dispassionate manner. We have been consistently presented with shifting targets, and every time an answer is given, another question is asked. For example, in discussing Shri Shourie’s book, the argument was that he had quoted from Protestant writings. Have the Catholics said similar things? When these were presented, the question became, but does this represent the whole of the Catholics? And when the Pope is quoted, the question becomes, but do the laity have to accept everything that the Pope says? Hansel has talked about Christianity in glowing terms, and would like us to believe that the Church has built a fair record in India. From this one would also conclude that the Church has built a fair record in their ‘home’ nations as well. Does it not, then, seem strange that one sees a decline in Church attendance - not only in terms of those offering prayers, but also those who wish to devote their lives in spreading Christian values? Hansel manifests a syndrome that the Germans call vorbeireden, talking past the point. It is a verbose device to circumvent the truth. Hansel, in his second last paragraph, accuses the RSS of being unconcerned about the poor and marginalised, and wishes to perpetuate the age-old hegemony of the landlords and traders. If his article was not meant to be serious, one could have a good laugh over these meaningless expressions. At the same time, I do admire his excellent command over the language! But, good English is no substitute for sound logic. In my group, only I could be accused of being a trader, and none of us of being landlords in the pejorative sense. Dialogue Dialogues are an essential feature of any civilised society. In this dialogue, there should be freedom for a person to hold whatever opinion that he/she wishes to. But, a dialogue cannot deny facts. And a dialogue is not meant to bring everyone to exactly the same line of thinking. If Hansel has to look over his shoulder, I am afraid he will find very little support. The Vatican II defines a dialogue in the following terms: “By the witness of their lives and their message, let the missionaries enter into a sincere dialogue with those who do not yet believe in Christ. Accommodating their approach to the mentality and culture of their audience, they will open up the way for them to reach the point where they are ready to accept the Good News [of the Gospel of Christ].” (Ashrams, p 85.) The Thailand Report on Hindus, by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation, is more forthright: “The use of dialogue in reaching people has to be carefully considered .... It must lead to proclaiming Christ as Lord .... The purpose of dialogue should be carefully and constantly borne in mind. It should not simply end in dialogue.” What the Roman Catholic Church thinks of dialogue has been well expressed by Cardinal Arinze, president of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Christians, in the opening lines of the latest official declaration on “Urgency of Dialogue with Non-Christians” has said the following: “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made man, is our saviour ... He ascended to heaven but not before he had carefully prepared his apostles to bring salvation to all men, of all times, in all places..... Interreligious dialogue would be unnecessary if all men believed in Jesus Christ and practiced only the religion which he established.” {“The Urgency of Dialogue with Non-Christians” in Origins 39/14, Washington (March 14, 1985), pp.641-50. Quoted in Hindu-

Christian Dialogue, edited by Harold Coward, Page No. 267.} What should one make of this, in the context of Vatican II? I do not know how many Hindus would like to dialogue with Catholics under these conditions. Perhaps most of them would like to follow Shri Max Muller when he says, “(I)n ancient Greece the dialogue reflected most truly the intellectual life of the people.” (What India can teach us?, Delhi, p ix.)

Annexure A Christians Awake! by Hansel D’Souza The Secular Citizen, June 1995 With the recent sociopolitical upheavals triggered off by the Babri Masjid demolition and the riots that followed, the status of minorities in India has come under review. While allegations of pampering the minority vote bank have been levelled at the ruling party, the Muslim minority itself has felt let down by them. This, however, has served as a point for introspection for the Christian community in the country. To begin with, Christians in India account for less than 4% of the total population and hardly command the attention that the Muslims have in post-independence history. Besides, this population is widely dispersed except in Mizoram where it constitutes the majority. In “highly concentrated” pockets like Goa and Kerala where Christianity took roots and flourished, the Christian population is barely 25-30% of the total populace. Why, then, have Christians become the target of attack by forces represented by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other groups of the Sangh Parivar? The Question is best answered by first finding out what the sore points or main areas of conflict are. Without going into a detailed analysis, I could list from my experience and dialogue with groups that subscribed to the Sangh Parivar’s ideology the following areas of suspicion: 1. Conversions by Christian missionaries. 2. Denigration of Hinduism by Christians. 3. Cultural alienation of Christians in India 4. Political turmoil in areas under missionary influence. A plan to tackle each of these points separately. The objective of this exercise is not to either defend the Christian point of view or attack the Hindu perception, but to look within and search for means to overcome majority of our countrymen. One clarification is necessary and that is that neither do the Sangh Parivar’s perceptions represent those of the majority of Hindus nor do my own represent those of the majority of Christians. Conversions by Christian missionaries To the average reader, this might seem a non-issue and might hardly warrant serious thought. Yet, to my mind, this has been the major bone of contention and rightly so.

One need not delve into history-books to find out the circumstances under which ‘Missionaries in India.....’ will serve as a ready reckoner of the growth of Christianity during the colonial era. While I strongly recommend reading this scholarly work, I do not agree in toto with his analysis and interpretations. There have been reactions in the press from both Christian and non-Christian writers. While expectedly, Christian die-hards condemned him outright, the contributions by Khushwant Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyer warmed the cockles of Christians hearts with their stout defence of Christians and their work in India. In any case, to smugly accept their standpoints would be akin to falling prey to flattery. Arun Shourie has done service to the Christian community by bringing forth a bugbear that seethes in many a mind and warrants clarification. To convert or not convert? This seems to be the question o the day! To begin with, it might seem redundant to state, but important none the less, that besides the Constitution, every philosophy holds that like all human beings, every religion is equal. Religious belief is a matter of the mind and heart, and to every human person, his own belief is probably the dearest, most pristine and perfect. The word ‘convert’ itself is a term of aggression and connotes a kind of intellectual assault on an individual’s philosophy. When this is coupled with force, coercion, bribery or blackmail, it becomes a despicable act that any self-respecting person - Christian or otherwise - can only condemn. If one were to peruse the documents of Vatican II, one would come across an unequivocal endorsement of this very thought made some three decades ago by the Church. In fact, as recently as a few months ago, Pope John II in a letter to Roman Catholics said that the Roman Catholic Church must mark the year 2000 by acknowledging its sins over the past 2000 years, including intolerance in the name of religion and complicity in crimes against human rights. He mentioned the “acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of truth”. What greater apology can by preferred than this, from the Pontiff of the entire community? Why then does the suspicion still exist? Is it that the missionaries in India wilfully go about this business of conversion with single-minded purpose? Or is it a bogey raised by a section of Hindu fundamentalists? In any case, the first positive step would be for the CBCI and the Church in India to call a blanket ban on dubious conversion activities. It is time for us to come clean on this issue and express the sentiments of the vast majority of the Catholic laity that lives in India. Let not the misguided zeal of a fanatical few sully the fair record that the Christians in India have built over the years. We then come to the point of evangelisation. “Go forth and make disciples of all nations...” is the favourite quote of crusaders in defence of their cause. To begin with, I will desist from debating or interpreting quotes from the Testament or for that matter the Gita, Koran or Torah. This is the refuge of cowards who would like to hide behind passages of the past to justify their own nefarious ends. Just as the proof of the pudding lies in eating it, the veracity and relevance of Scripture lies not merely in its words but in the practice of it. Over the ages, the Bible has meant a million things to a million men and no single person can claim authority over its interpretation. As we see it today, evangelisation can hardly be convincing a man against his will of the superiority of one’s own point of view. However backward, poor and marginalised a tribal may be, it would be foolish to assume that he lacks the intelligence to discern the motives of an ardent missionary and for a bowl of rice or a yard of cloth relinquish his beliefs of centuries. In fact, the only condition which would motivate a man to abandon his precepts for another would be if he bore a deep hate for a system that subjugated him and his tribe for centuries

condemning them to a sub-human existence. Human dignity stands tall over all other values and this should be a point for introspection for our Hindu brethren. Should then Christians be allowed to propagate their faith in any part of the country they choose? I would like to delineate here the concepts of propagation and proselytism. Very recently, Pope John Paul II was quoted to have stated in Colombo “the Church firmly rejects proselytism.” If this is true, then the Holy Father has indeed lead the way for us to follow. A critic would then quote in answer Matt. 28:29. Does the Pope then negate Scripture? The essence of Matt. 28:29 is the command to spread the Good News of redemption by preaching and professing the values taught to us by Christ. One of the foremost of these values is a genuine respect for one’s neighbour. Would Christ have condoned the Inquisitions, the rape of the Inca civilisation by missionaries and conversion by bribery and deceit? Can one justify any one of these heinous acts by quoting Scripture? Fortunately, the Holy Father himself has answered the question. What, then, should our response as Indian Christians be? While upholding the right to practice, preach and propagate our faith, we must be conscious of our responsibility to respect the faith and beliefs of others. Every school of thought and philosophy propagates itself in various ways. Only bigots do it by attempting to destroy others. It is time that the Church in India followed in the foot steps of the Holy Father and stated publicly its official position on the matter. It is in the interest of the entire Christian community that a directive be issued to all missionary orders in the country to view sternly any attempts by its members to flout the code of ethical propagation. In fact, the Church would do well to lay down strict guidelines in matters of acceptance of new entrants to the Faith and formulate a code for ethical propagation of the faith. It would be interesting to ask Mother Teresa and her Sisters of Charity, how many people they have converted during the course of their work. I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is none. Yet, she has become a shining example of how to live the Christian faith for the world to see. It is in the interest of harmonous relations with our fellow Indians that we must realise the need to act with maturity and promptness in this regard after due consideration and debate. Denigration of Hinduism by Christians The history of colonial missionary activity in India is rife with examples of calumny heaped upon indigenous faiths by European missionaries who came here ostensibly to preach the Word of God. Without going into details of the circumstances under which this was done, today we cannot but help agree that this was improper and most undesirable. The epoch however was different and understanding of the faith was restricted to certain schools of European opinion which followed the exclusivist approach that believed there was no salvation outside the Church. The wheel has turned a full circle. The Exclusivist thinking gave way to the Inclusivist approach that acknowledged salvation through other faiths but through Christ’s influence though not knowing or acknowledging it. Today, the postVatican II thinking is Pluralist - that accepts that other faiths are in themselves sufficient for salvation. With this approach, denigration of another faith, destruction of an indigenous philosophy or assertion of the, superiority of one’s own faith is not just superfluous but offensive. It is definitely not wrong to believe that one’s own faith is the best, but to wilfully

show disrespect to another does not just contravene the teachings of Vatican II but is anathema to the basic teachings of Christ. Under the tutelage of European missionaries, it became fashionable to condemn Hinduism as idolatry and mythical nonsense. Today, I understand that a study of the Bhagwad Gita is compulsory in seminary training, not with a critical objective, but with a desire to imbibe the best from one of the finest philosophical works the world has known. Given this background, the Catholic Church in India has no choice but to accept that the calumny of the past was a grievous error on the part of over-zealous crusaders for the Faith. Today, while bearing a genuine feeling of remorse, the Church must make amends by inculcating in its young adherents a genuine respect for the tradition, faith and beliefs of the millions of our countrymen. For a Catholic living in a pluralist society like India, it is an entirely different experience from that of the Catholic living in almost a mono-theist western nation. Our approach to different faiths cannot be governed by global compunctions but should be a conscious effort on our own, not only to understand but to accept and imbibe the rich philosophy of religions like Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism have to offer. To the fanatical few, this might seem like an attempt to dilute the teachings of the Church and erode the principles on which Christianity was founded. On the contrary, the Christian faith has weathered many an onslaught and has stood the test of time. Today, as basic Christian values become more and more apparent, there is a burning need for the church in India to rectify the mistakes of the past and embark on a mission to live the Christian values of respect for others by word and deed. Desecration of Hindu temples, destruction of idols and condemnation of tradition were attempts by colonial agents with a misguided zeal of “civilising” the colonies. While accepting this as wrong, the Church needs to set the record right and project in the right perspective its role of being an instrument of change in this society that is living with the ghosts of the past. By being responsive to the needs of the people, the Church can fulfil its mission of bringing solace to the struggling sections of our society. Many Indian missionaries are today involved in the day to day struggle of our people for justice, dignity and a better way of life. It is by identifying themselves with the people’s needs that they have given witness of their faith and have won the appreciation of the milieu in which they work. This is a sterling example of living Christian values without being offensive about another’s faith and belief. To quote our Prime Minister, “to exist (as a nation), we must co-exist”. Though India is described as a secular country, it is in fact a country of many faiths. Only when we learn to live with genuine respect for each other’s faith can we grow. Cultural alienation of Christians in India To understand many of the problems we live with, it is essential to go back in history. Though Christianity came to India as early as 52 A.D. or thereabouts through St. Thomas (as some believe) or traders from the East, it only flourished and spread with the influx of European missionaries under the patronage of our colonial rulers. The dividing line between culture and faith being so thin, it was only natural for adherents to the Faith to adopt the culture that introduced the faith to them. Thus, the early

Christian being influenced by the educational institutions set up by the early missionaries adopted the culture he was taught to accept. This is hardly a strange phenomenon when one considers the influence on both religion and’ culture that the Dravidian civilisation had on the Aryans. Even the Moghals left an indelible mark on Indian society during the course of their rule. While the influence of other civilisations has been accepted and assimilated in Indian society, the western influence on the Indian Christians is still looked upon with suspicion. One of the main reasons being that westerners ruled us as recently as 45 years ago and there exists a strong feeling of resentment against the British with whom all western influences are identified. There are many sections of the Christian community that live in Kerala, Mangalore, Tamil Nadu, the North-East and even Bombay who have retained strong bonds with Indian culture and yet profess the Christian faith. But, it is fashionable to deride Christians as behaving as al lens in our culture. Language is a very strong vehicle that not only perpetuates but contributes to the growth of a culture. The strongest surviving traditions can be linked with languages with rich literary works, art, dance and music. Unfortunately, a large majority of Christians in India being products of missionary schools have severed ties with the indigenous art forms and culture as a whole. This, to my mind, led to the cultural alienation of Christians from the rest of the country. By way of example, take any Hindu student from an urban English medium school. Chances am that he would find Indian culture as alien as his Christian counterpart. In fact, the contemporary Indian student is so influenced by the communications boom in the country that one can see a steady erosion of Indian culture in the mind of the new generation. So is it fair then to blame Christianity or the Church for this cultural alienation? Obviously no. But if not by commission, then at least by omission is the Church guilty of being party to this trend. Through its educational institutions, the Church has hardly contributed to the development of at least in interest in the Indian art forms and culture on the whole. Again, there is no such thing as a composite Indian culture, but the indigenous practice and tradition is what needs to be nurtured in its own spheres of influence. Has there been any conscious effort to promote and propagate indigenous tradition? As early as the 16th century, De Nobili attempted to amalgamate Christian faith with Indian tradition. These attempts are being looked upon with suspicion today as a masquerade to convert the local populace and make Christianity more “acceptable”. What De Nobili’s real objectives were is hard to tell, but the fact remains that a certain section of Indian, society felt perfectly at home with professing the Christian faith while retaining their indigenous culture. It is ironical that Jesus Christ himself was hardly an European. In fact, he and his first followers were as Asian as we are. Perhaps, that is why there is no dichotomy between the cultures of the Kerala Christians and Kerala Hindus. Another example is Buddhism. Was the Buddha a Chinese, Tibetan. Indonesian, Malay, Burmese, Korean or any other South-East Asian? And the fact is that a large majority of original Buddhists live outside the land of the Buddha’s birth-India! What then is the answer to this allegation of Indian Christians being culturally alienated from patent of the prototype of the perfect Indian? Is nationalism the preserve of the chosen ones ordained by the divine powers? Political Turmoil in Areas Under Missionary Influence

In the recent past, missionary activity in India has faced flak from the Sangh Parivar on a New front. Quoting examples from the North-East, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, the allegation is that Christian missionaries in these areas are wilfully promoting political dissent and are contributing covertly to the turmoil faced in these areas. To assess the truth in this statement one will have to analyse the socioeconomic situation in these pockets. To begin with, the common factor that exists between the people in all these areas is that the majority of the population in these geographic segments were triabals and their economic condition has been backward since centuries. Did the Christian missionaries then, as part of a planned effort, fish in troubled waters? Or, did they choose to work with the most underprivileged in the country in order to live the Christian ethic of bringing solace to the poorest of the poor? The answer most likely depends on which end of the political spectrum one subscribes to. But, without picking nits, one can say that the outcome of this activity has been a polarisation of forces in these treas. Today there exists a great awareness among the people of their rights, their strengths as a group and an enhanced quality of life. This obviously has led to increased tensions between the ruling elite, landlords and traders on the one hand and the tribal folk who are no more subservient as they used to be. The missionary has naturally opted to support the group he has worked with all these years. Though the missionary has always been primarily concerned with the socioeconomic uplift of the tribals, the dividing line between this activity and the political equation at the local level is too fine to define. The surprising part, however, is that groups of the Sangh Parivar have been quick to denounce missionary activity as being ‘anti-national’! Is it anti-national to opt for the poor and marginalised? Is it anti-national to challenge the ago-old hegemony of the landlords and traders? Is it anti-national to demand development of a particular area even if it means asking for a separate state within the Indian union or a new demarcation of boundaries for local development? Obviously, the RSS would say yes, considering that they have traditionally represented the cause of the ruling elite in their pursuit of extreme right-wing idealism. However, looking at the problem objectively, this allegation of fomenting anti-national sentiments needs to be treated with the contempt it deserves. Without going into whether it is right or wrong for Christian missionaries to involve themselves in the struggles of the people, one can clearly see that there is no covert or overt effort on their part to subvert the constitution and the polity of the Indian nation. This involvement may be construed as adopting a position opposite to right-wing ideology, but this can definitely not be construed as being anti-national. Annexure B Paranoia of Proselytisation by Fr. Augustine Kurrapilly The Examiner, Date: July 8, 1995 A religion which has been in this land for two thousand years and has contributed enormously to its intellectual, emotional, cultural and religious growth has a mere 2.5 percentage of the population. But it is accused of proselytisation. The paranoia that Christianity is out to convert the nation is in itself an indication of either the collective emotional instability of a large segment of our nation or the symptom ‘of a malady. It is high time the Christians who teach the children of this nation, start teaching the nation itself the truth of this malady. The Christian religion which is engaged in health work

through its innumerable hospitals, dispensaries, health centers and rural health projects in this country must try and heal this paranoia. Coupled with the same paranoia is the denial of rights of dalit Christians. The very fact of being a Christian is used to deny him/her the constitutional rights granted to other dalits. Repeated pleas to the Prime Minister and the Government have fallen on deaf ears. Though Christianity was brought to this country as early as the first century by a disciple of Christ, it has never been accepted as part of the culture. Though many other religions originated centuries after Christianity’s arrival in India are accepted, Christians are treated as foreigners. They are unjustly associated with the colonial powers that had ruled this country for two centuries. The fact is that most of Indian’s Christian population has its origin from Dravidian and Adivasi stocks, who are the real sons of the soil of the Indian subcontinent, Paranoia of Proselytisation while the Brahminical and Vedic people had crossed into the North of India via the Kyber Pass - from outside. Obviously Christian missionaries like Sr. Rani Maria are not converting the villagers to Christianity. Any data will tell you that. However the available data will tell you that she had been working to uplift the poor, to bring about awareness in their minds, to help free them from the money lenders. This has been the so called ‘missionary’, activity of Christianity. This is evidently harmful to the rich and the powerful who exploit the poor. Without the poor there will not exist a rich class, so the maintenance of the poor as poor is a vital necessity for the rich. Something that disturbs the mind of every Christian in this country and which should disturb every right minded citizen is the murderous attitude that is creeping into the very fabric of India. By killing and assaulting the weakest of the weak like a nun, a woman, a maid servant, India is exhibiting its moral cowardice. On what ground can any one defend our dear nation if it is accused of human rights violation? It is one thing that there are sporadic human rights violations in different parts of the country, it is another thing that the nation has lost all its sensitivity and shows scant respect to its most committed and patriotic citizens. If the “endless anger” and continuing suspicion and hatred for fellow beings are not replaced soon with love, the venom of revenge alone will survive and India will grow into a criminal society in the eyes of the world community. The larger section of Hindu society will inherit the bad reputation earned by an errant section of fundamentalists. This country has been rotting with corruption. Added to it is the rampant terrorism. All available evidence, including acts of frequent terrorism unleashed on the minorities, makes one suspect that it has the tacit support of the government machinery. As a missionary church entrusted with the gospel message of love and compassion, Christianity has to exercise its prophetic role today and tell the nation that it is heading for peril and that its inability to protect the weak can never be deemed as its strength. There are over 14,000 priests and 65,000 nuns belonging to the Catholic Church in India. No religion can claim to have such dedicated and patriotic team of workers engaged in the uplift of the poor, in restoring health to the sick and in developing society. Most of these personnel are in the teaching profession. A majority are running schools where the powerful and the rich would like to send their children for education. It is strange that hardly any of the children are converted to Christianity all these years although they spend a decade or more of their formative and impressionable years with the nuns and priests.

The single most significant evidence is that a large number of Christian missionaries are engaged in health services. They are a minority not more than 2.5 per cent of the nearly 950 million of our population and control a sizeable number of the beds in hospitals. Yet their hospitals are not used for conversion. Of course myths have a way of establishing themselves as truths. All these facts tell a different story from the hysteria over conversion. It is also noted that as long as the Church teaches the rich to retain their social status and help their siblings to climb the social ladder still higher, the Christian missionaries are tolerated. But when the poor get the same benefit from the Christians the rich will not tolerate it. Christians will continue to be meek and mild as their Lord and Master Jesus was, and will live as lambs as he wanted his followers to be. Christ’s religion however, is a religion of hope and trust, and Christianity will always trust its fellow country men and will hope for the best, all the while praying even for their killers. Fr. Augustine Kurrapilly (Guest Editorial)

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