Pope Francis on Tuesday formally approved Mother Teresa’s elevation to sainthood and set 4 September as the date for her canonisation.
This news will be greeted with applause by the cream of India’s intelligentsia, such as Vir Sanghvi, who always defended her, or Navin Chawla her biographer and Sonia Gandhi’s friend. I have a two questions however:
1) What does Mother Teresa really stand for?
2) Why do Indians defend her so ardently?
Foremost one should say in defence of Mother Teresa that she certainly is doing saintly work. After all, there is no denying that it takes a Westerner to pick up dying people in the streets of Calcutta and raise abandoned orphans, a thankless
task if there is one. Indians themselves, and particularly the Hindus, even though their religion has taught them compassion for 4,000 years, have become very callous towards their less fortunate brethren.
This said, one may wonder: What did Mother Teresa really stand for?
Was caring for the dying and orphaned children her only goal? Well, if you have observed her carefully these years, you will have noticed that she did not say much. She did speak against contraception and abortion, in a country of more than one billion, where an ever growing population is spiking whatever little economic progress is made, where the masses make life more and more miserable, invading the cities, crowding their streets and polluting the environment; where for 70 years the Indian government has directed a courageous and democratic birth control program (this must be said, for China has achieved demographic control through autocratic means).
What else did Mother Teresa say: she spoke of the dying in the streets of Calcutta, of course, of the poor of India left unattended, of the misery of the cities. Fair enough, but then it should have been pointed out to her, that she projected (and still project even though dead for so long) to the whole world an image of India which is entirely negative: of poverty beyond humanity, of a society which abandons its children, of dying without dignity. OK, there is some truth in it. But then it may be asked again: did Mother Teresa ever attempt to counterbalance this negative image of India, of whom she was the vector, by a more positive one? After all she lived here so long that she knew the country as well as any Indian, having even adopted Indian Nationality. Surety she could have defended her own country? She could for example have spoken about India’s infinite spirituality, her exquisite culture, the amazing gentleness of its people, the brilliance of its children…
Unfortunately, Mother Teresa said nothing. For the truth is that she stood for the most orthodox Christian conservatism. There is no doubt that ultimately Mother Teresa’s goal was utterly simple: to convert India to Christianity, the only true religion in her eyes.
Did you notice that she has never once said a good word about Hinduism, which after all is the religion of 780 million people of the country she said she loved, and has been their religion for 6000 years. This is because deep inside her, Mother Teresa considered, as all good Christians do, particularly the conservative ones, Hinduism a pagan religion which adores a multitude of heathen gods and should be eliminated.
For make no mistakes about it, there has been no changes about the Christians or Protestant designs on India since they arrived with the Portuguese and the British.
Listen to what Lord Hastings, Governor General of India, had to say in 1813: “The Hindoo appears a being limited to mere animal functions…. with no higher intellect than a dog or a monkey”! Mother Teresa was much more clever than Lord. Hastings. She knew that on the eve of the 21st century, it would have looked very bad if she would openly state her true opinion about Hinduism: so she bade her time. But ultimately is not charitable work, whatever its dedication, a roundabout manner to convert people? For without any doubt the people she saved from the streets ultimately became Christians – and if you ask those “elite” Indians who knew her well, such as the photographer Raghu Rai, a great admirer of her, she would always come out after some years with: “it’s now time for you to embrace the true religion” (Rai politely declined).
The second point then is: why did and does still India’s intelligentsia, the Vir Sanghvis, Rajdeep Sardesai, Navin Chawla’s, all of whom are born Hindus, defend her? These are intelligent, educated people, they must surely have had some inkling of Mother Teresa’s true purpose. Or did they? Do Sanghvi and Sardesai (there is a rumour that Sardesai’s father converted to Christianity), or Naveen Chawla, Mother Teresa’s ever admiring biographer, understand what Mother Teresa really stood for? That she was someone basically hostile to their culture, their religion, their way of life? Does Sanghvi know that Hindu society has always been the target of Christians since their coming here? Does he understand that he and a thousand of his peers, who belong to the intellectual elite of India and keep praising Mother Teresa, are doing harm to their country and opening it to its enemies? The Christian influence is very strong in India today: it shapes the minds of its young people, in a subtle way, through its schools, which many of the children of the rich attend. It moulds the thinking of the tribes it has converted, particularly in the North-East, where the missionaries have always covertly encouraged separatism (see the remarkable book “Indigenous Indians” by the Dutch Scholar Konrad Elst).
But ultimately it must be concluded that the Indian intelligentsia who defend Mother Teresa and are constantly attacking Hinduism, as Sanghvi, or the @IndiaToday group during @SriSri’s recent World Cultural Festival, are a product of three centuries of English and Christian colonialism, which successfully created an Indian elite cut off from its roots and hostile to its own culture. Mother Teresa is an incarnation of Western post- colonialism and the Nobel Prize she got is their endorsement of her work,
As for the Indian government’s stand on Mother Teresa, it is like biting one’s own tail and it seems quite stupid. Why make Mother Teresa a national figure when she represented and still represents today the worst publicity for India at a time when the country is trying to shed its image of poverty and backwardness? Surely Mother Teresa deserves praise for her work. But there are hundreds of other selfless, courageous individuals in India, who do not hog the limelight and go on with their service to the nation in true Christian humility. Sri Sri, for instance does a hundred times the sewa of Mother Teresa. The deeds of Mother Teresa should be reviewed in their proper perspective. Let us hope the @BJP4U Govt understands that.
For make no mistake about it, the wonder that is India, its great culture, its philosophy, its inner spiritual genius is today under mortal threat. It is attacked both from within by its minorities – of which the Christian lobby, although not the most visible, is essentially hostile – and in the process they may make allies with the Muslims, the other monotheist religion, with whom they partake of the same hate for Hinduism. And from without, by hostile neighbours. And what will India become if the Mother Teresas’ of this world, helped unwittingly by Sanghvi and his peers have the last word? It will lose what makes Her unique on this earth, different from all others, above most of them and become another Westernised, Christianised, standardised society, having lost its soul along the way. Thank you Vir Sanghvi and Naveen Chawla.