The Fraud of ‘Christian Ashrams’

via H Balakrishnan published on May 10, 2010

Dear Sir,

Reference the ‘gushing’  write-up  “ Chapel Bhajans “ – (i.witness – TNSE – 09 MAY).


Anyone who has read the ‘Intellectual Kshatriya’ (late) Sita Ram Goel’s – ” Catholic Ashrams: Sanyasins or Swindlers “ (1988), will not be taken in by the TNSE Article.  Rather it is akin to pouring ‘old wine’ in a ‘new bottle’ !!


The emergence of Catholic ashrams in several parts of the country is not an isolated development. These institutions are links in a chain which is known as the “Ashram Movement”, and which different denominations of Christianity are promoting in concert. The Protestants and the Syrian Orthodox have evolved similar establishments. Taken together, these institutions are known as Christian ashrams. Several books and many articles have already been devoted to the subject by noted Christian writers. The Ashram Movement, in turn, is part of another and larger plan which is known as Indigenisation or Inculturation and which has several other planks.


A 1990 Vatican Document entitled ” Redemptoris Missio “  – (Redeemer’s Mission ) (RM), has been summarised by Winand Callewaert, a prominent Catholic Indologist as : ” The Church is by definition missionary – -. For our subject, it is important to note that RM strongly emphasises the need for missionary activity in Asia . For this mission, ‘Dialogue’ and ‘Inculturation’ are recommended as the best strategies. The challenge consists in tuning that ‘Dialogue’ to the primordial goal viz evangelisation “.  Thus the ‘Ashram Movement’, and an offshoot – “Chapel Bhajans” !!Indigenous ‘Churchianity’ – to lure the unsuspecting into the ‘Harvest’ !!


There is a mass of Christian literature itself on the ‘Mission Statements’ !! Summarised, it speaks of the need for Christianity in India to drop its alien attire and get clothed in Hindu cultural forms. In short, Christianity has to be presented as an indigenous faith.  Christian theology has to be conveyed through categories of Hindu philosophy; Christian worship has to be conducted in the manner and with the materials of Hindu pûjâ; Christian sacraments have to sound like Hindu saMskâras; Christian Churches have to copy the architecture of Hindu temples; Christian hymns have to be set to Hindu music; Christian themes and personalities have to be presented in styles of Hindu painting; Christian missionaries have to dress and live like Hindu sannyâsins; Christian mission stations have to look like Hindu ashramas. And so on, the literature of Indigenisation goes into all aspects of Christian thought, organisation and activity and tries to discover how far and in what way they can be disguised in Hindu forms. The fulfilment will be when converts to Christianity proclaim with complete confidence that they are Hindu Christians!!’Sarva Dharma Samabhava’!!

The Mission ‘s ‘Patron Saint’ of ‘Inculturation’, was an Italian monk – De Nobili (1577-1656). The Madurai Mission had been carved out towards the end of the sixteenth century from the Jesuit missionary province on the Pearl Fishery Coast. It was here that De Nobili came in search of a ‘Rich Harvest’!! He had already learnt Tamil and Sanskrit. But he could not pass as a Brahmin unless he wore a sacred thread and grew a kuDumî  (tuft of hair) on the back of his head. These essential emblems of a Brahmin had been expressly forbidden to Christians by a Church Synod. So he sought an exemption from his immediate superior, the Archbishop of Cranganore. The Archbishop referred the matter to the Primate and the Inquisitor at Goa . Both of them sanctioned the masquerade, and De Nobili “declared war on the powers of hell and set about with the torch of the Gospel to scatter the darkness of error and bring to Christ as many souls as I could”. He left the mission house dressed as a Hindu sannyasin and set up an “ashram” on the outskirts of Madurai , an ancient seat of Hindu learning in South India . He wore a sacred thread and grew a kuDumî; he painted appropriate parts of his body with sandal paste; he took to sitting and sleeping on the floor and eating vegetarian meals prepared by a Brahmin cook; he began washing with water in the lavatory, brushing his teeth with a twig and bathing as many times a day as was prescribed in the Brahmin books; he stopped riding a horse on his travels in the interior.


Meanwhile, the ashram was coming up fast. De Nobili built a shrine which looked like a Hindu temple. He called it “kovil”, the Tamil term for a Hindu place of worship. He celebrated Mass but described it as “pûjei”. The fruits and sweets he passed around after the “pûjei” were termed “prasâdam”.He composed Christian hymns and songs in Tamil and set them to the tunes of Hindu devotional music. The names of angels, saints and apostles which these compositions contained were translated into a kind of Tamil. Similar names were given to whatever converts he made. The hymns and songs were used for sacraments, which he called “saMskâras”, at the time of births, marriages and deaths. Festivals like Pongal were also Christianised in the same surreptitious manner.


De Nobili composed several books and tracts. They were written in Sanskrit or Tamil but packed with Christian lore. His most brilliant performance pertained to the most sacred Hindu scripture-the Veda. Having heard a folk tradition that the true Veda had been lost, he produced a book in Sanskrit and proclaimed that it was the Yajurveda  which he had discovered in a distant land and which he had come to teach in India . Later on, when he was found out, he would say with a straight face that what he meant was the Yesurveda, the Veda of Jesus!!


If De Nobili was the ‘Jagad Guru’ of the ‘Ashram Fraudsters’, not far behind were the ‘ The Trinity from Tannirpalli ‘ !! The three names which have achieved celebrity in the  Christian world, in India as well as abroad, are those of Jules Monchanin, Henri Le Saux and Bede Griffiths. All of them were associated with the Saccidananda Ashram at Tannirpalli in the Tiruchirapalli district of Tamil Nadu. The first two came from France and the third belonged to England . All three have become known as Indian sages. Bede Griffiths is being hailed as a brahmavid, a claim advanced rarely even by ancient Hindu rishis!!


Their statements at various junctures are ‘laughable’ !! Bede Griffiths was convinced that ” a meeting must take place between the different religions of the world “. But he laid down a condition. ” For a Christian, ” he said, ” the meeting of religions can only take place in Christ.”  Monchanin and Henri Le Saux had founded the Saccidananda Ashram in order ” to lead India to the fulfilment of its quest for the experience of God by showing that it could be found in Christ” . Now it is the turn of Bede Griffiths “ to show how Christ is, as it were, ‘hidden’ at the heart of Hinduism ” !! , and how ” Rama, Krishna, Siva, and the Buddha, all the mysteries and sacraments in Buddhism and Hinduism, are types and shadows of the mystery of Christ ” !!. Christ ” is the fulfilment of all that the imagination of the Indian soul sought to find in its gods and heroes, in its temples and sacrifices “. Christ is the ” goal which Vedanta has been seeking “. The time has come when ” Hinduism itself will be seen as a Preparatio evangelica, the path by which the people of India have been led through the centuries of their history to their fulfilment in Christ and his Church “. ” Inculturation “   , YES SIR !! Q.E.D. And the 21st century equivalent – “Chapel Bhajans”!!


Now cut to the ‘ Modern Era ‘ !!  Dr.Babu Suseelan, a practicing psychologist in the U.S.A. and hailing from Kerala, had posted an essay in an Internet group, entitled : ” Dishonest Christian Evangelists in fake Hindu Cultural Garb “, on 12 Mar 2007 . He wrote: ” A case in point: SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI NAVASRUSHTI INTERNATIONAL TRUST, DHARMA BHARATHI ASHRAM,MULANTHURITHY, ERNAKULAM, KERALA (http://www.navasrushtiinternationaltrust.org/). Wow!! That’s really impressive. I guess we had better get down on our knees right now, and start confessing everything, holding nothing back, as well as support the Hindu sounding organization! Right?


Wrong.


At first, you may find it as a spiritual Hindu organization motivated to do good. Now read on and weigh the contents in accurate scale and you will know that it is an “ecumenical communion of the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ” Swami Sachidananda Bharathi in saffron dress is an evangelist and the Dharma Bharathi Ashram is an institution for indoctrination of gullible Hindus. This dishonest fake name is an attempt to develop a rapport with Hindus without divulging their own evil intention. The name of the organization looks wonderful on the outside but on the inside are very manipulating. It is a desperate attempt to trick Hindus into joining the Christian Ashram. They are after Hindu mind and money. It is a sophisticated mind control and recruitment technique that has been refined over time. Evangelists need to operate using deception. Why? Because if Hindus knew their true practices and beliefs beforehand then they would not join. Evangelists need to hide the truth from Hindus until they think they are ready to accept the fake paradise.


It is a slick well-orchestrated public relations front which hides what the group is really like. They want to help the poor, support peace and revitalize environment. It is all fake selling points.

The ideas of deception are not an original idea of the Christian evangelist Swami Sachidananda. A Christian missionary wrote about the methodology of Christianizing Hindus in India some 80 years ago using a similar deception. The missionary wrote “ If we are insistant in converting Hindus, let it be remembered that until we adopt Hindu cultural practices, it is difficult to lure Hindus for Jesus”. Christian evangelist Swami Sachadananda Bharathi and his organization are adding a new deceptive dimension based on the old missionary technique.


The deceptive tactics of the evangelist Swami Sachidananda Bharathi (formerly N.V. John) and other slick evangelists include misquoting Hindu verses, building Churches that look similar to temples, Ashrams, doing Christian ceremonies like Hindu festivals, and adopting Hindu names for conversion centers. They construct preaching centers which are outwardly as closely as akin to Hindu Ashrams. Christian evangelists continue the outward form of Hinduism while adding a new dimension based on the Bible “. Anything different between ‘Swami Sachidananda Bharathi and Father Joseph Thattarassery, sans saffron robes??

  The ‘AIM’ is ‘singular’ – ‘Rich Harvest’, and, ‘Ends justify the Means’ in this case. Sanatana Dharma teaches just the opposite !! Amen !!


‘ Hinduism Today ‘ is a journal produced from Hawaii by a group of  ‘ Shaiva Bhaktas ‘ of white Spanish Christian descent and now ‘Sanatanis’. In one of their issues, they wrote, succinctly:

” A comparison might best illustrate Hindu concerns. Let us imagine that one day a Muslim missionary arrives in a poor section of America such as a part of the Catholic Hispanic (Mexican Origin) section of San Francisco . Well supplied with zeal and petrodollars from his own country, he learns Spanish, builds a Muslim cathedral along the lines of a Catholic building, outfitting it with pews, organs, choirs and so forth. Preaching from a Christian Bible appropriately edited according to the Koran, he puts on the clerical collar and black robes of a Catholic Priest and holds Sunday services which look just like Mass, except that prayers are to Allah and Mohammed instead of Jesus. In ministering to the local people, he tells them that his Islamic faith is just a slight variation of Christianity, one which puts the crowning touches on it. Their father’s religion, Catholicism was, he says, flawed but it is a good preparation for Islam. He gives loans to those in need, which need not be repaid if one joins his Church. He opens an orphanage and raises the children as Muslims though their parents are Christians. When accused of deceiving the people, he says he is only adapting his religion to the local context and expressing his Muslim charity and divine call to evangelize.

In this situation, would not the local Catholic leaders be offended? Would they not point out that this preacher was making an unfair and undue impact because of his foreign funding? They would ask why he did not simply come forward as he was, a Muslim, and not pretend that his religion was only an ” improved ” version of Christianity. They would challenge his right to wear the vestments their community honored, to sing the hymns their mystics composed, usurp symbols held to be holy, to draw their people away from Christ, thereby dividing the families and pitting wife against husband, father against son and neighbor against neighbor.


This is the situation the Hindu finds himself in, though it has developed over several hundred years. Christian missionaries have adopted Hindu ways of life, Hindu religious symbols, architecture, worship forms and declared themselves as Swamis. A Catholic priest who calls himself “swami” instantly attains the status and authority of a holy man in Hindu society, which he can use to make converts.By using Sanskrit terminology in his sermons he implies a close relationship of Hindu theology to Catholic theology, a relationship which does not really exist. Such missionaries speak authoritatively on Hindu scriptures and argue that their [Christian] teachings are consonant with everything Hindu, but add a finishing touch, a ” fullness,”  to the traditional faith.


Hindus are seriously questioning whether yoga, puja, and sannyas, which are so deeply rooted in particular Hindu theological concepts, can ethically be adopted by Christianity. Christians don’t believe in the practice of Yoga as the means to God-Realization – as taught by Hindus. Puja is based upon an understanding of Gods and Devas which Catholics do not share. And finally sannyas is Hindu monasticism, rooted in Hindu beliefs, leading not to heaven and Jesus but to moksha – the Hindu’s realization of Absolute Truth “.


But to question the ‘honesty of purpose of these Christian Ashrams’ is to invite the wrath of the ‘secular brigands’ and to be instantly dubbed – ‘COMMUNAL’!!


It is best to conclude with these ringing words of Sita Ram Goel :


” The mission’s new-found love for Hindu culture is a sham. It is neither spontaneous nor sincere at any point. On the contrary, it remains forced, calculated and contrived throughout. Examined closely, it is no more than a thin veneer that cracks at the very first probe “.


So much for “Chapel Bhajans” – SIC!!
JAI HO !!

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