Whatever the Missionaries say or do !
16/03/2011 00:36:25 Dr Vijaya Rajiva
Whatever the missionaries say or do, India has been a Hindu country since time immemorial, since the time of our Vedic sages more than 5,000 years ago. And it will continue to be so simply because the inclusive nature of the religion has a built in ethos which is not contrived or used merely for political purposes. There have been countless invasions, and two major Occupations (the Islamic and the colonial British), but they have not seriously dented the Hindu ethos of the subcontinent, despite forced conversions, torture and terror and from the Christian side endless propaganda (supported by the colonial government) and the horrors of the Goa Inquisition of the 16th century. And now the attempt to attack Hinduism in a variety of sophisticated ways.
This is not to say that the ‘asuric forces’ (phrase coined by a Hindu in the diaspora) should be taken lightly. The book Breaking India (2010) by authors Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandhan has detailed the dangers faced by Bharat:
An animated debate is going on in both the Hindu diaspora and readers in India concerning the above problems. The book itself deals with the third problem. Authors Malhotra and Neelakandhan also continue to provide information regarding the asuric characters, both Indian and Western that are actively seeking to subvert Hinduism. These asuric forces stop at nothing and in addition to exaggerations, actually invent alleged crimes committed by Hindus against the Christian population in India. The mayhem that these asuric characters create cannot be underestimated. While they do not and cannot replicates the horrors of the Goa Inquisition or the colonial era onslaught of the Christian missionaries they are to be watched and vigorously contested at all international fora where they congregate.
There can be no two opinions on the subject. There cannot be any complacency.
However, while not wishing to be complacent in such a context, the present writer is convinced that a parallel consideration of why India will continue to be Hindu may not be out of place. India will continue to be Hindu. This is not only because of heroic defensive battles fought in the past by various ruling princes and the everyday Hindu against the invaders but because the religion itself is superior in its central ethos over both Christianity and Islam. This was true then and is true now.
Why is this so ? The two proselytizing faiths are self defeating. There is only this much that force, fraud and money can do. Once the economic considerations are over many of the poor and underprivileged return to the ancestral fold because the ancestral memory is very strong among Hindus. This cuts across the board, across all classes and segments of the Hindu population, where they have not been corrupted by greed and mendacity.
Hinduism’s built in advantage is two fold . It is inclusive. Since time immemorial our saints and sages have proclaimed that the paths to spiritual and religious enlightenment are diverse and varied. This is why Mahatma Gandhi could say that the Sermon on the Mount went straight to his heart and yet continue to be a Hindu to the end of his life.
And indeed who can quarrel with the figure of Jesus of Nazareth ? But Christianity in its historical development was the opposite of what Jesus preached. Violence and conquest are built into its ethos. The quest for domination is ever present. And whatever limited good some of the practitioners of the religion achieve is nullified by its compulsive need to proselytize. The recognition that Hinduism in its great religious documents preaches essentially what Jesus wanted (but did not achieve) has not seriously entered the minds of the unfortunate missionaries.
Their proselytizing zeal also serves the political interests of the colonial and post colonial powers. The Bible and the gun have always gone hand in hand.
The second advantage that Hinduism has is its deep connection with Prithvi, Bhumi(Earth). While this can be generalized to the entire planet it is best seen in the
concept of sacred earth and the sacralisation of various centres of worship from Kashmir and Kailas in the north to Kanya Kumari in the south, and east and west across the entire subcontinent. No country has so many sacred centres in one and the same geo-political area.
This latter dimension is particularly present in the consciousness of the Scheduled Castes and Tribals. Missionaries have tried to convince them that they are separate from the so called ‘orthodox’ Hindu tradition. This tradition that the missionaries have conjured up in their vivid imaginations is in reality part and parcel of the SCs and STs traditions also.
The basis of the tribal religions is the worship of Nature, which is ever present in the Vedas. The cosmic, atmospheric and terrestrial forces of Nature are worshipped on a grand scale in the Rig Veda. The tribals do the same, in a more localized and limited manner. The presence of deities is shared both by tribal religion and Hinduism. This is why many tribals who have been converted by the activities of missionaries have slowly but surely returned to their ancestral faith. Here, the Sangh Parivar’s efforts are bearing fruit precisely because of the deep linkages between tribal and Hindu worship(what missionaries call ‘paganism’).
With regard to the converted Schedule castes, here too the damage caused by missionary interventions is colossal. The enmity they have sown between the converts and the Hindu SCs has been detrimental to the body politic. The recent attempt by Catholic bishops to get the converts included in the government’s affirmative programs is a gross injustice to the Hindu SCs for whom the Constitution had originally intended the programs . These Hindu SCs are , in fact, economically disadvantaged in comparison to the converts who benefit from the Church and foreign donations.
But here too, many of the converts are returning to the Hindu fold, after experiencing the discrimination by the upper echelons of the Church and the congregation. For them even after conversion, there are separate pews in church, and separate burial places in graveyards. They are looked down upon by the well to do converts and those who like to think of themselves as upper caste converts. There is no intermarriage.
Many SCs are uncomfortable with the strait jacket of monotheism. In the end, therefore, they and as well the depraved and deracinated Hindus bribed by opportunism will return to Hindu India. In Bharat, the 4Gs of Hinduism, as spelt out by journalist Vir Sanghvi, are the enduring heroes : Gayatri, Ganga, Gau and Gita. And this is only the beginning of a long list. Can such a religion be defeated ?
The missionaries will not like this. Do we look as if we care ?
Vande Mataram !
( The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)