Tuesday, July 3, 2012




'Conversion activity will not win' -- Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

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June 30, 2012
'Conversion activity will not win'

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

In his recent article 'Christian Imperialism in India' Dr. Gautam Sen has provided an incisive analysis and an historical over view of the phenomenon of Christian conversion activity in India (see the article dated June 22,2012 in www.sookta-sumana.blogspot.com). It is a timely article and a warning signal to Hindus who are inclined to the view that all religions are equal and therefore turn a blind eye to the ongoing frenetic conversion activity in India. This is also the basis of the famed Hindu 'tolerance' of all religions. Whether all religions are equal is a theological topic that can be discussed and debated, but whether the other guy is equally tolerant and whether in fact, is always looking to subvert and convert, owing to the intolerant nature of his/her faith, is a question that Hindus seldom ask.

And yet they must.

Theological discussions (when all else fail) can also become a cover for conversion activity, just as interfaith dialogue can be a cover. Dr. Sen article is also timely in that it points to the duplicity of Western converts to Hinduism, some of whom are engaged (if indeed this is the case) in covert anti Hindu activities within the country, such as the encouragement of the signing of official documents that would endorse 'legal' conversion activity.

Now, this question of 'legal' conversion activity is a bogus one, in the opinion of the present writer. In a context of unequal power, such as superior financial and political clout, the Church in India is engaging in what can only be described as fraudulent conversion activity. And those Western converts to Hinduism who wittingly/unwittingly aid and abet this process are to be strongly criticised and without delay. The present writer has previously written about this problem in the article ' The Abject Surrender of the Vedic Agamic Tradition' (see bharatkalyanblogspot.in & www.sookta-sumana.blogspot.com). Western converts to Hinduism are prone to either a belief in the one god (one god-ism) or to a refined Vedantism. This is not especially their fault. It is the reality of the situation. The Church, and other monotheistic faiths readily pounce on this, because they cherry pick quotations from the Vedas and the Upanishads to now argue that 'pagan' Hinduism, afterall is like them ! They cannot and do not relate to Vedic Agamic Hinduism, the ritual, the temples, and the worship of gods and goddesses. That would spell the end of their missionary activity !

And the Western converts follow this trail. Some do this under the misguided impression that they are really engaged in propagating Hinduism (hence doing us a favour) and some are consciously duplicitous for reasons best known to themselves. And there are other Western converts who have overcome obstacles and relate to the Vedic Agamic tradition. These last mentioned are rare cases.

The present writer believes that the conversion activity will not win. There are two important reasons for this: (1) the innate strengths of Hinduism, (2) the deep devotion of the millions of Hindus both in the homeland and in the diaspora.

Christianity overcame ancient Greece through the might of the Roman empire. Once Constantine became a convert it was a point of no return. In addition, Greek philosophy and thought were quickly subverted, the most notable examples being the absorption by the Church fathers of neo Platonism and most famous of all, Thomas Aquinas's borrowing and reinterpretation of Aristotelian philosophy. Aristotle's First Cause was used by Aquinas to describe the Christian god as the first cause and creator of the world. The fact that subsequent European philosophers questioned and critiqued this argument for the existence of God, made no difference. The damage was done.And Plato's references to the demiurge in his last dialogue Timaeus, did not help matters. The demiurge became the Christian god with great ease. Greek philosophy was quietly defeated.

A similar process has not (and will not) overtake Vedic Agamic Hinduism. The vision of the Rishis is considered by Hindus to be apaurusheya (without human origin) and they speak of a multitude of divine beings in the universe, the Devas and Devatas of Hinduism, which then are worshipped in temples and homes across the length and breadth of the land. Perhaps no country has housed so many temples and so many deities, hence the destruction of hundreds of them by the barbarian invaders and the present frenetic activity of the Church in building churches dotted all over the landscape. Inculturation, that subtle process perfected by the Church since the failed Goa Inquisition of the 17th century, and reaching a climax in the work of Indian Catholic theologians such as the late Raimundo Panikkar, is not showing the substantial success that was hoped for. Hence, too the activity of such institutions as BIRD (Bangalore Institute for Religious Dialogue) which have a superficial air of engaging in authentic interfaith dialogue.

Neverthless, they too like any other proselytising monotheistic faith are committed to the spread of the doctrine of one god-ism.
The Hindu Satchidananda, the Infinite which is Sat, Chit and Ananda, and which presents itself in the various Devas and Devatas of Hinduism cannot be set aside. Here, the proselytisers have encountered an insurmountable obstacle.

The second reason therefore, is the faith of the aam admi and the millions of Hindus who cannot be shaken from this devotion to the
Vedic Agamic tradition. There is in fact, no need for them to do otherwise. They do not need to exchange the depth and richness of their religion to a limited theology such as the Church offers. The aam admi can only be converted for economic reasons. And while the long night of the colonial Occupation had left the country impoverished and its social and educational structures in tatters, the post Independence landscape presents some positive features (despite the massive corruption and the political malaise). Today, after the discovery of the river Sarasvati (through satellite photography & other archeological methods) mentioned some 78 times in the Rig Veda and which disappeared in the post Vedic period, Indic scholarship has gained a new strength and stridency in every field. This type of scholarly activity has thrown up several layers of defence against the encroachments of the monotheists.

They might even lead to the type of active defeat of the opposite side such as the Digvijaya tours of Adi Shankara. Hindus need not feel bashful, like shrinking violets, if such a process does take place.

This is going to happen despite the best efforts from the asuric side and their chamchas on the Indian side. Many converts to Christianity are returning to their ancestral faith. As noted recently by an astute observer there is a resurgence of Hindutva in the country. Hindutva or Hinduness (as one scholar pointed out) is inevitable in a land where the Devas and Devatas preside in every nook and corner, in every remote village, from the Himalaya to Kanya Kumari, from east to west.

Does all of the above mean that Hindus should become complacent and rely on ancient faith and the aam admi to tide them over their crises ? On the contrary it should all encourage them to engage meaningfully in Kurukshetra.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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