Dastardly Murders and A Dialogue to Hide Them

published on June 11, 2009

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By K. M. MURALIDHARAN

It is in the news that the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamiji and “Spiritual leader and Art of Living founder” Ravi Shankar will sit together with Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Bishop Thomas Dabre and Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran of the Vatican for an “inter-religious dialogue” in Mumbai on June 12 and 13. The “inter-religious dialogue”, advertised as “the largest of its kind in recent times”, is being organized by the Catholic Church, purportedly, with a view to “spreading understanding among different religious groups in the country”.

As a Hindu concerned about and interested in such meetings, and, of course their outcome, I would like to share with Hindu brethren my views on this type of inter-religious dialogues in general and the imminent Mumbai Dialogue in particular.

At the very outset I would like to make it very clear that as a Hindu I am not, in theory, opposed to inter-religious dialogues, discussions, or any exchange of views, provided vital and contentious issues existing between the participating religious communities are discussed at such meetings, the participants are competent and truly representative of their respective religious communities, and viable methods are suggested to improve inter-religious relations.

What issues the Mumbai dialogue will be considering, is not known. But since the dialogue is between “Hindus” and Christians, the recent murders of two Hindu holy men in Orissa, the alleged Maoist-Christian connection, the strife being created in society almost all over India due to unprincipled conversion efforts of Christians, planned and blatant attack on Hindus in many parts of north-east India, etc should be seriously raised by representatives of Hindus during the dialogue. Will any such issue be raised or discussed at the Mumbai Dialogue, is to be seen. I have the least hope in this regard.  

With respect to competence of the participants, I am, like any other man of commonsense, fully convinced that two cardinals and a bishop are more than competent to represent the Christian side. It is obscure why there are only two participants purportedly representing the Hindu side whereas three participants are on the Christian side. Is a third man not available from among the vast Hindu society? Even among the two who purportedly represent the Hindu side, I have serious doubts about the credentials of one man as a Hindu representative. I have no objection to the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamiji representing the Hindu side, since, firstly, because genuine Shankaracharyas are traditionally regarded as representatives and heads of Hindu society, and secondly because his holiness is not allergic to the Hindu tag and has consistently and for a long time taken a sensible stand on issues affecting Hindus.( However, there is a clever plan and a design in inviting Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamiji to the Mumbai dialogue. There is allegation from Hindu organizations that the church has committed murders of two saintly Hindu sanyasis in Orissa and is committing widespread violence in that state. Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamiji who himself has been facing charges of the murder of an ex-Manager of temple, will not raise the issue of murder allegations against the church at this juncture. This is pure psychology. And that is the precise reason for inviting him to the Mumbai dialogue).  

In the interest of Hindu society, however, I am bound to challenge the competence of Ravi Shankar as a representative of Hindu society, if at all he is participating in the dialogue as a representative of Hindus. If anybody’s stand, in answer to my above objection, is that Ravi Shankar is participating in the dialogue not as a representative of Hindus, then in that case the Kanchi Sankaracharya is reduced to a single-member side in juxtaposition to three participants on the  side of Christians, which arrangement is itself dubious and questionable.

My objection to Ravi Shankar as a participant has no personal element in it. Rather my reservations against him as a Hindu representative are based on his performance in relevant contexts in the recent past. I would like to make my point clear:

Ravi Shankar is a proponent of “universal spirituality.” His crass eulogy for Mother Theresa is just nauseating. His attempt to picture that “instant saint” of the Roman Catholic church as a superb ‘yogi’ who had “passed through the various stages of spiritual development detailed in Hindu scriptures”, is one of the funniest things under the sun. The first major public advertisement issued by/on behalf of Ravi Shankar appeared in full page in English newspapers, welcoming Pope John Paul II to India at a time when other major Asian countries including China had denied the pope permission to visit their countries.  

Ravi Shankar visited Pakistan in 2004 and met some political and religious leaders there as a part of his efforts to “promote global peace”. (We did not hear the name of any Hindu leader in that connection. Didn’t Ravi Shankar meet any, or is it the quality of reporting of our sickular press?) Times of India reported Ravi Shankar’s visit under the caption ‘There’s dignity of religion in Pakistan’. (Precisely which religion, friends?) Ravi Shankar was reported as saying: “… There is dignity of religion in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan respect their culture, heritage (sic) and religion. We should learn from them.” The same Ravi Shankar lamented in January 2008: “The rich Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh legacy that was common between Pakistan and India was forgotten. Had they recognised that their ancestors were also part of these traditions, they would have imbibed and kept alive some of those values and that perhaps would have made them more tolerant and less violent.” [excerpt from Ravi Shankar’s  ‘Lessons from Pakistan’, published in Rediff News, January 18, 2008]. I think Ravi Skankar has no case that the great oblivion on the part of Pakistanis was a development during the less-than-three years between 2004 and 2008. If I am right on that point, then Ravi Skankar is pitiably wrong in his opinion pertaining to year 2004. (If Ravi Shankar has read the Quran at least once, and has understood anything about it, he would have been able to tell at least himself why non-Islamic heritage is not to be cherished or preserved by a Muslim. For a Muslim, the ways of non-Islamic forefathers is to be thrown away and forgotten and destroyed. Heritage of pre-Muslim Pakistan was destroyed due to the intolerant and violent attitude inculcated by the clear teachings of Islam. It is not a simple case of a people becoming intolerent and violent due to lack of preservation of heritage, as Ravi Shankar would ‘innocently’ like to make us believe. Ravi Shankar fails to distinguish between cause and effect, or else he pretends to do so).

This sort of imperfect understanding of one simple social issue, for sample, shows either a poor analytical mind, or still worse, intellectual dishonesty. Either defect hardly fits a competent representative of a community to take part in any meaningful dialogue, whatever might be the ‘spiritual’ merits of such mundane shortcomings.  Padris know that perfectly well, and that is why Ravi Shankar is their most welcome dialogue-partner. His mildest-of-the-mild expressions and attitude and ineffectiveness in a dialogue is by now evident and infamous as revealed by his performance in the case of dialogues with one or two Islami peace-talkers. Even unwarranted aspersions cast by the Islami counterpart against Hindu religion were swallowed by Ravi Shankar with extraordinary ease. Got why exactly the church chose Ravi Shankar as a Hindu representative?

Inter-religious dialogues are part of church’s scheming to project a face of peace when its criminal acts come to light for the whole world to see. In 1983 church goons placed a cross in the precincts of Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple on way to Sabarimala, and the church claimed that the cross was as old as, and placed at Nilakkal by Thomas, the disciple of Jesus. The church had full support of the then Chief Minister K. Karunakaran (now for long in political dust-bin) and his Government. The Sangh Parivar of Kerala took the challenge.  Agitation shook the entire state. Mr John, Archaeologist from Calicut University scientifically examined the cross and gave expert opinion that the cross was not even two hundred years old. The game was out for the church. It had to hide its ugly face. It had to project itself as a sociable and civilized entity. And then, at short notice,  came a spate of Mathasouharda-Sammelanams (Inter-religious friendship meets) conducted by the church. Hindu name-bearers — the ilk of Sukumar Azhikode —  were invited to such meetings to ‘represent’ the Hindu side.  The sort and quality of speechifications at those meets are any sensible man’s guess.  

The inter religious dialogue at Mumbai is being organized by the Catholic Church. In Orissa and some other parts of the country the church is resorting to cold-blooded murders of Hindus opposing illegal religious conversions, either using Maoists, Naxalites and such outlaws as perpetrators of the murders; or goons of the church themselves carrying out the heinous killings and then bribing the state police officials to tell the world that the murders are handiwork of the ultra-reds named above. Two major sanyasi leaders — Sampoojya Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and Swami Ramcharandas— have already been brutally done to death in Orissa in recent times. Anyone who is familiar with the history of the church knows well that assassinations of this kind has been part of the nefarious tactics of the church right from the earliest days of the church’s history. As the church and a section of the police allege that the murders are committed by Maoists, a sensible person is prone to ask why Hindu religious leaders alone fall victims to the wrath of Maoists. When did Christian priests become the pets of extreme-socialists?

Mockeries like “inter-religious dialogues” and such sham peace-efforts are the dire need of the church at this juncture to publicize that the church, its leaders, and its religion stand for peace. This is an  eyewash, as well as a diversion tactics. Any person who participates in such cleverly designed ploy christened as “inter-religious dialogue” and sings the “All religions are one” refrain there, is playing in the hands of cunning and crooked church leaders. At a time when un-clotted Hindu blood is still there on the hands of the church, any person participating in such dialogues has a moral duty to tell the church in unequivocal terms that it should stop violence, murder and illegal conversions.  

I appeal to Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamiji to bear in mind the above point. To Ravi Shankar I make no appeal, since in my humble opinion, he is no representative of Hindus, but a universal spiritualist, a person aloof of insular religious divisions unlike we ordinary mortals, an ardent Gandhian more non-violent than Gandhi, and by those very reasons out and out disqualified to represent Hindus.

I offer only one commentin his case: “Sir, Dear Sir, by participating in a dialogue as a Hindu leader, you are unwittingly telling the world, I mean, to those who are wise enough to make out what is what, that you are not exactly what the world, I mean, the credulous world, thinks that you are. Please remain your loafty self. Please don’t double up as a Hindu. A good number of Hindus share my feelings.”

Tail-piece: Watch out for the enthusiastic coverage that the so-called dialogue is going to get on the pages of this Times and that Times and of the one “that shamelessly misuses the noble word denoting our noble religion and race”.  

______________________________________________________________________


[Note: The aspersions cast on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the article is the opinion of the author. They do not in any way reflect the opinion of team HK].

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