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What made Hindus angry in Karnataka ? Francois Gautier

Francois Gautier

06 Oct 2008 02:12:00 AM IST
Source: Express buzz

I WAS born in a Catholic family. My uncle was a priest, a wonderful man of warmth and compassion and I spent most my early years in Catholic boarding schools. When I was young I wanted to become a missionary and to ‘convert’ pagans in Asia. What I was taught by priests was that Hindus worship false gods and they needed to be brought back to the True Word by Jesus Christ.

Then of course, I came to India and discovered that actually Hindus, far from being the heathens, as had been portrayed in Europe, not only believed God’s diversity, the wonderful concept of avatar, but had given refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world, whether the Syrian Christians, the Parsis, the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted), the Armenians, or today the Tibetans.

I am also aghast at the one-sided coverage by the Indian media of the Christian- Hindu problem: blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus in Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai train blasts, Jaipur, etc. Yet, neither Manmohan Singh nor Sonia Gandhi have pronounced once the word ‘Islamic terrorism.’ But when furious Hindus, tired of being made fun of, of witnessing their brothers and sisters converted by financials traps, of seeing a 84-year-old swami and his Mataji brutally murdered, of reading blasphemy about their Gods, vent their anger against churches, many of them makeshifts, the Indian government goes after the soft target which the Hindus are. The same thing applies to the United States: they never warned Muslim organisations in India about the killing of Hindus, but when dollars are used to buy new converts and it angers the majority community of India,Washington has the arrogance to issue a warning, and Manmohan Singh does not have the pride to tell the US to mind its own business.

Neither the Indian press nor the western correspondents bothered to write about what made Hindus angry in Karnataka: Newlife, one important westernfunded missionary centre ( http://www.newlifevoice.org), began making conversions in and around Mangalore by accosting poor people in market areas, or in bus stands, befriending them and then taking them to churches to introduce them to the father.

Upon introduction they were paid Rs 2,500 per person and then taken to the Velankanni shrine, in Tamil Nadu, where they would get another Rs. 3,000.

When they finally converted to Christianity by changing the name, they got an incentive of Rs 10,000 onwards.

Newlife would then give them instructions to abandon wearing tilak on forehead, not to visit and offer prayers at the Hindu temples, replacing the photos and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses with a Cross, etc.

But what really angered local Hindus was when Newlife went one step further and published a book in Kannada — Satya Darshini — which was widely distributed by its missionaries. Here below is the translation of some of the most abusive passages: “Urvashi — the daughter of Lord Vishnu — is a prostitute.

Vashistha is the son of this prostitute.

He in turn married his own Mother. Such a degraded person is the Guru of the Hindu God Rama. (page 48).

When Krishna himself is wallowing in darkness of hell, how can he enlighten others? Since Krishna himself is a shady character, there is a need for us to liberate his misled followers (page 50). It was Brahma himself who kidnapped Sita.

“Since Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were themselves victims of lust, it is a sin to consider them as Gods. (page 39).

When the Trinity of Hinduism (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) are consumed by lust and anger, how can they liberate others? The projection of them as Gods is nothing but a joke. (page 39). God, please liberate the sinful people of India who are worshipping False Gods. (Page 39).” When blasphemy and much worse is brought against the most sacred Hindu Gods, Hindus are supposed to take it meekly as sheep and let themselves be converted to a foreign religion! There are more than 4,000 foreign Christian missionaries involved in conversion activities across different states.

In Tripura, there were no Christians at the time of independence. There are 1,20,000 today, a 90 per cent increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1,710 Christians in 1961, but 1.2 million today, as well as 780 churches! In Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming up every day in far-flung villages and there was even an attempt to set up one near Tirupati.

Christians throughout the ages have strived on the concept of persecution and as a brought up Catholic, I remember feeling bad about all those martyred saints of Christianity. Christians in India like to say that they are only two per cent and can do no harm. But it is a sham: in the Tamil Nadu coastal belt from Chennai to Kanyakumari, there must be now 10 per cent Christians posttsunami and the same may be true in other parts of south India.

My heart goes out to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa who took a courageous stand against unethical Christian conversions, but is now under pressure from the Centre.

The BJP, having learnt from bitter experience that the Congress has no qualm in invoking President’s rule under fallacious pretexts in states which are ruled by non-Congress governments is in a quandary: it must show some action against militant Hindu groups while remaining true to itself.

This is why Yeddyurappa took some action against Hindu groups while saying that his government will not tolerate forcible conversions and will take stringent action against missionaries involved in conversions.

And ultimately, the blame must fall on Hindus: they are 800 million in India, the overwhelming majority; they have the brains, they have the money and they have the power. But either their intellectual and political class sides with the minorities, out of fear, inferiority complex imbedded by the British or just sheer crass political opportunism, or the bigger mass is indifferent inert, selfish, un-civic conscious. Every Hindu is the inheritor of the only surviving spiritual knowledge which at the moment is under a concerted attack by Christian missionaries, Americanisation, Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.

Mother of melting pots

Mother of melting pots

It was always thought that India was a melting pot of different influences coming from the West, either by trade or through invasions, and that she owes many of her achievements – her sciences, philosophy, or religion – to outside influences, whether by the way of the Aryan invasions, or via the Greek incursions.

But more and more discoveries, both archaeological and linguistic, are pointing to exactly the opposite direction: in the millenniums before Christ, it is Indian civilization which went gradually westwards and influenced the religions, the sciences and the philosophies of many of the civilizations which are considered today by the West as the cradle of its culture and thought.

American mathematician A Seindenberg, for instance, has demonstrated that the Sulbasutras, the ancient Vedic mathematics, have inspired all the mathematic sciences of the antique world from Babylonia to Egypt and Greece. “Arithmetic equations from the Sulbasutras were used in the observation of the triangle by the Babylonians and the theory of contraries and of inexactitude in arithmetic methods, discovered by Hindus, inspired Pythagorean mathematics”, writes Seindenberg.

In astronomy too, Indus were precursors: 17th century French astronomer Jean-Claude Bailly had already noticed that “the Hindu astronomic systems were much more ancient than those of the Greeks or even the Egyptians and the movement of stars which was calculated by the Hindus 4500 years ago, does not differ from those used today by even one minute”.

What about philosophy? French historian Alain Danielou noted as early as 1947 that “the Egyptian myth of Osiris seemed directly inspired from a Shivaite story of the Puranas and that at any rate, Egyptians of those times considered that Osiris had originally come from India mounted on a bull (Nandi), the traditional transport of Shiva”. But it is mainly Greece that was most influenced by the myth of Shiva: many historians have noted that the cult of Dionysius (later known as Bacchus in the Roman world), definitely looks like an offshoot of Shivaism.

There is also no doubt that the impact of the Vedas and subsequent Hindu scriptures, such as the Vedanta and Upanishads, was tremendous on the different philosophical sects which flourished at different times in Greece. We know that the Greek Demetrios Galianos had translated the Bhagavad-Gita. And even William Jones, the 18th century linguist of British India, noted that “the analogies between Greek Pythagorean philosophy and the Sankhya school are very obvious”.

German philosopher Shroeder had also remarked in his book Pythagoras und die Inderòf39ó that nearly all the philosophical and mathematical doctrines attributed to Pythagoras are derived from India.

It also seems very clear that ancient India played an immense role in the making of Christianity, particularly the writings of the Gospel. Alain Danielou thus notes that the structure of the Christian church resembles that of the Buddhist Chaitya, that the rigorous asceticism of certain early Christian sects reminds one of Jaina practices, that the veneration of relics, or the usage of rosaries are all Hindu customs”.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, which is practised in more than eighty countries, also remarks that Jesus sometimes wore an orange robe, the Hindu symbol of renunciation in the world, which was not a usual practice in Judaism. “In the same way,” he continues, “the worshipping of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism is probably borrowed from the Hindu cult of Devi”. Bells too, which cannot be found today in synagogues, the temples of Judaism, are used in churches and we all know their importance in Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands of years.

There are many other similarities between Hinduism and Christianity: incense, sacred bread (Prasadam), the different altars around churches (which recall the manifold deities in their niches inside Hindu temples); reciting the rosary (Japamala), the Christian Trinity (the ancient Sanatana Dharma: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), Christian processions, the sign of the cross (Anganyasa).

Hindu and Buddhist philosophies had also a great influence on 19th century Europe, particularly in Germany, where philosophers, such a Frederich Shlegel, said that “there is no language in the world, even Greek, which has the clarity and the philosophical precision of Sanskrit,” adding that “India is not only at the origin of everything, she is superior in everything, intellectually, religiously or politically and even the Greek heritage seems pale in comparison”.

Shopenhauer agrees with him and writes in the preface of his “The World as a Will and as a Representation”: “According to me, the influence of Sanskrit literature on our time will not be lesser than what was in the 16th century Greece’s influence on Renaissance. One day, India’s wisdom will flow again on Europe and will totally transform our knowledge and thought”.

This is an excerpt from Gautier’s just released book `Arise O India’ (Har Anand).