Monday, September 01, 2008

Evangelists denigrate Hindu gods, goddesses

Conversion by deceit is reprehensible
Haqeeqat of evangelist diatribe against Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Reading proscribed or prohibited literature is both exciting and engrossing. I would probably find Lady Chatterley's Lover hugely boring if I were to plod through DH Lawrence's turgid prose today, but decades ago a tattered Jaico copy of the book, purchased surreptitiously from a pavement stall, was a prized possession.
After news broke about the Government of Rajasthan banning a book tantalizingly called Haqeeqat and coming down like a ton of bricks on Emmanuel Mission International's operations in Kota for using it as anti-Hindu propaganda, I was curious to check out its contents.
It was a revealing experience, partly because the book provides an insight into the warped mindset of those who believe their God is the only God worth worshipping. And, largely because its contents are a measure of the extent to which freedom of expression can be abused in the guise of exercising freedom of religion.
Hindu-bashing is nothing new for evangelists in India - they do it with as much ease as they distort Islam or Buddhism in other countries. Nor is the concept of harvesting souls in distress a novel method to add numbers to followers of Christ. From Indonesia to Sri Lanka, there were howls of protest against the manner in which evangelists tried to convert victims of the 2004 tsunami by preying on their emotional vulnerability.
What is new is the brazenness with which evangelists have begun to abuse objects and symbols of Hindu reverence, a trend that began a decade ago with Pat Robertson's proselytising visit to Rajahmundry where he infamously chided Hindus for "washing away their sins in the sperm of the God," the God being Lord Shiva.
Mr Robertson, on that occasion, characterised Hinduism as having "evil tendencies". Later, on 'Club 700', his immensely popular TV show, he expounded on this thesis by claiming "Shiva (is) the God of Destruction, and his consort, the Goddess of death (Kali) - that black, ugly statue there with all those fierce eyes."
This, in a sense, is the theme song of evangelists who are out harvesting souls in the villages of India, far away from prying Government eyes lest they be hauled up for unfair conversions or conversion through inducement and worse.
It is immaterial, as Dr Arvind Sharma, who teaches comparative religion at Montreal's McGill University, says, "Although Hinduism admits that different beings and entities can perform what we might consider evil acts, there does not seem to be a single entity such as the Christian devil in Hinduism. And since there is no practice of evil or concept of the devil in Hinduism, to call Hinduism demonic is really demonic."
Castigation, however, has not prevented willful perversion by evangelists of the living faith called Hinduism practiced by more than a billion people across the world. For evidence, pick up a copy of Emmanuel Mission's weapon of Hindu destruction - Haqeeqat.
It's not amusing to be told "Hindu Gods would use their penises as bombs! Whenever and wherever they wanted to, they would drop their 'penis bombs' to terrorise the people... But compared to foreign bombs, these penis bombs were a damp squib."
It's definitely aggravating to be informed, in the crudest possible manner, that "naked sanyasis are worshipped by (Hindu) women. The moment (Hindu) women see naked sanyasis, they fall on the ground and prostrate themselves before the sanyasis. (Hindu) women pour water on the sanyasis' penises and then happily drink that water. Ling Devata is gratified when he sees all these repulsive things and feels empowered."

Abusing freedom, falsifying gods
On Monday, March 20, Assist News Service, based in Lake Forest, California, USA, which circulates news about the work of evangelists around the world, put out a story by Michael Ireland, its chief correspondent, headlined 'India's Prime Minister launches investigation into arrest and persecution of Indian Christians'.
According to this story, "India's Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has launched an investigation into the arrest of Hopegivers International President Dr Samuel Thomas.
'Our letter writing campaign is working,' says Hopegivers Executive Director Michael Glenn, 'we must continue to write and fax letters of protest this week.'
Glenn said that because of the campaign, 'The Prime Minister of India has today appointed a four-member commission to investigate the persecution in Kota where our president and top administrative staff have been falsely accused and jailed. This is simply a naked effort to force Emmanuel to shut its doors'."
The story then goes on to urge Christians in the US to petition Senators, Congressmen and the US President against what it portrays as outrageous action by the Government of Rajasthan, prodded by 'Hindu fascists', against Dr Thomas and his fellow evangelists of Emmanuel Mission International that operates five registered societies in that State. These are: Emmanuel Bible Institute Samiti, Emmanuel Anath Ashram, Emmanuel School Society, Emmanuel Chikitsalaya Samiti and Emmanuel Believers Fellowship, all funded by the US-based Hopegivers.
What it does not mention, however, is the reason why Dr Thomas and his associates have been booked for violating Sections 153(a) and 295(a) of the IPC, "which deal with deliberately outraging religious feelings or insulting the religious beliefs of another community." Dr Samuel Thomas has been arrested and his father, Mr MA Thomas, has been declared an absconder.
And, while choosing not to elaborate on the nature of charges, the report quotes Ms Shelley Thomas, wife of Dr Thomas, who is at present in the US: "Nothing that my husband has done was intended to outrage or insult any other religion... This is a totally false charge and unrelated to the organised violence, threats, and attacks that have been conducted against us for the last six weeks."
It also points out that the Government of Rajasthan has "revoked without due process or hearing, all the operating licenses of the Hopegivers-supported bookstores, churches, the hospital and leprosy or HIV-AIDS outreaches, orphanages, printing presses, schools and other institutions."
Dr Thomas has been quoted saying, "Of course, none of these actions are legal. The terrorists and hate groups have taken the law into their own hands and sadly, we have lost confidence in the local Government to control them."
Since evangelist advocacy groups have willfully refused to tell the full story, it would be in order to place the facts on record.
The immediate provocation that led to the arrest of Dr Thomas and others involved with the Emmanuel mission's work in Kota is born of the contents of a book that he and his associates have been distributing among the people. The book, Haqeeqat, is authored by a Kerala-based evangelist, MG Matthew, and purports to be a rebuttal of MS Golwalkar's writings that have been published by the RSS as Bunch of Thoughts.
In reality, it is unadulterated abuse of Hindu scriptures, faith, ritual and tradition. It denigrates every tenet of Hinduism and pours undiluted scorn on Hindu icons and gurus. It casts aspersions on the chastity of Hindu women and questions received wisdom.
Published by the Kerala-based Truth & Life Publications, which puts out evangelist literature, it has been translated into Hindi by Dennis Nathaniel, associated with the Emmanuel mission, who has been arrested by Rajasthan Police. The book has been banned in Rajasthan. The author, against whom a non-bailable warrant has been issued, is believed to be hiding somewhere in Kerala.
Here are some samples of what Haqeeqat, which was being used by the Thomases and their associates to convince Hindus in Kota to abandon their faith and embrace Christianity, has to say:
* "Hindu gods and goddesses are fictitious and were invented to persecute Dalits" (Page 9).
* "To prevent indigenous people from acquiring knowledge, Saraswati invented difficult Vedas (which nobody can understand)". (Page 16)
* "With the progression of time, people all over the world (except India) were freed of their ignorance and they began to disown wicked and cruel gods and goddesses. But in India, because people are (enveloped) in the darkness of ignorance, imaginary gods and goddesses are still worshipped." (Page 17)
* "Naked sanyasis are worshipped by (Hindu) women. The moment (Hindu) women see naked sanyasis, they fall on the ground and prostrate themselves before the sanyasis. (Hindu) women pour water on the sanyasis' penises and then happily drink that water. Ling Devata is gratified when he sees all these repulsive things and feels empowered... These people are ignorant and do not know the difference between what is right and wrong." (Page 93)
* "Sita was abandoned in the forest as per Ram's wishes... Ram later asked Lakshman to kill Sita. In the end, Ram frustrated with life, drowned himself in Saryu. Such are the teachings of half-naked rishis who are praised by Hindutvawadis." (Page 100)
* "Lord Shiva, to get people to worship him, dropped his penis on Earth (Devi), shaking the ground and the sky! ... . Poor Dharti Devi was shaken by the weight of his penis. Seeing this, all the Gods were scared. It seems Gods would use their penises as bombs! Whenever and wherever they wanted to, they would drop their 'penis bombs' to terrorise the people. Thus, they were able to enslave the people... But compared to foreign bombs, these penis bombs were a damp squib." (Page 106-107)
* "(Ramakrishna) Paramahansa should have known that Ganga is the world's filthiest and dirtiest river. How many dead bodies float down this river every day? How many half-burnt dead bodies are dumped into it every day? And Hindus call it the holy river! In fact, all the rivers of India are dirty and polluted... Hindutvawadis pollute the rivers... and then depend on their false Gods to cleanse them..." (Page 122-123)
* "(For Hindus) men can be Gods, women can be Goddesses... animals are gods, snakes are gods... they (Hindu Gods) fight among themselves, marry among themselves, throw out their wives, run away with others' wives, they steal, get intoxicated, drink blood, are reincarnated as animals, fish and tortoise, some of them can lift mountains... Some Gods are in same-sex relationships and are yet able to produce babies. These Gods and Goddesses are always armed because they believe in killing and plunder. Some Gods think their penises are more powerful than nuclear bombs. Others like animals live naked among their followers. Some of them spend their time in yogic exercises, others are in samadhi and happy to see the number of blind followers swell... You can wash away your sins by worshipping the penises of Gods" (Page 146)
* "How could Arya Hindus bring Aryanisation on this earth. To be Arya, one has to be born of an Arya womb... If Arya Hindus want to bring Aryanisation then they must lend or rent out all Arya wombs to non-Aryans. Non-Aryans should be given Brahmin women so that children are born from Brahmin womb" (Page 182-183).
* "In modern India, many Ramas of this belief are living a carefree life. They marry several times, desert their wives, marry several times, and leave them. Many Ramas kill their Sitas. They are following their God Rama." (Page 269)
* "(Lord) Krishna had a despicable sex life... Shri Krishna is famous because of his love life. He had 16,008 wives. And all Yadav women were his illegitimate lovers. (Hindu) women are drawn towards him because of pornographic and vulgar tales of his sex life." (Page 391)
This is not the first time that the Emmanuel mission has run foul of the local administration and upset Hindus. On February 24, 2005, there was a near riot situation following the mission's crude attempt to convert Hindus through allurement and false propaganda. On that occasion, the mission head, Mr MA Thomas, had promised not to continue with such provocative activities.
The agenda papers at the National Integration Council meeting held under the tutelage of the UPA Government had this to say about Emmanuel mission and similar evangelist outfits:
"Communal tensions due to alleged conversion/reconversions:
In recent years, the issue of conversion/re-conversion has also become a major cause of communal tensions in some parts of the country. Allegations of forced conversions/ reconversions and subsequent communal tensions have surfaced from time to time. On many occasions even apprehensions, not founded on facts, on this account have given rise to communal tensions. Cases in point are the recent events on the occasion of the annual religious Assembly of the Emmanuel Bible Institute Samiti at Kota, Rajasthan, in February 2005. The situation was controlled due to prompt measures taken by the District States of Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have already passed legislations to regulate conversions by coercive means or offering allurements."
And yet, there is outrage over action against the Thomases. Such perverse drivel, such horrendous hate, as exemplified by the contents of Haqeeqat, the operating manual of Emmanuel mission, of course, is of no consequence to those who have taken up cudgels on behalf of its peddlers masquerading as Good Samaritans and Christian evangelists.
Instead, they are faxing letters to the White House, the US State Department, the United Nations, and Indian ambassadors to the US and the UN to paint the Government of Rajasthan in communal colours.
And, if Hopegivers Executive Director Michael Glenn is to be believed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appointed a four-member commission to inquire into the "persecution" of peddlers of anti-Hindu hate. If this is true, then a public statement is called for from the Prime Minister's Office. If it's untrue, then the least the PMO can do is issue a denial.

By Kanchan Gupta
Rediff On The Net September 17, 1998
The live telecast of Mother Teresa’s funeral by Doordarshan has put as serious a question mark on the “secular” credentials of the Indian state.
How can a state funeral be accorded to a nun whose dedicated service to the sick and the dying was only an expression of her fierce, unflinching and dogmatic loyalty to the Catholic church?
A dangerous precedent has been set by both these actions which have done disservice to a person who, in her lifetime, made it a point to spurn the glitter of highlife for the squalor of Calcutta’s back alleys.
Saturday’s live telecast of the state funeral by Doordarshan, which was taken to homes beyond Indian shores by Star, and reportage by foreign television networks like CNN and ABC, has left those who know little about India (including metropolitan Indians), firm in the conviction that no indigenous Indian’s contribution to the spiritual uplift of our society and welfare of the poor equals that of Mother Teresa’s.
That, of course, is far from the truth.
Vinoba Bhave, Swami Chinmayananda, Acharya Sushil Muni and the Shankaracharya of Kanchi never got the publicity, either in the national or foreign media, that their lives richly deserved, largely because a story on a bhoodan was considered too dry compared to a report on how Calcuttans would be dying in the gutters of the Empire’s erstwhile second city had it not been for a foreign missionary and her team of nuns.
There is also that other factor: A certificate of good work that comes from the West influences how we look at ourselves. Vinoba Bhave, Acharya Sushil Muni and the Kanchi Shankaracharya never sought nor received any such certificate. Hence, we have minimised their contribution.
A third factor has to do with the very nature of Indian secularism, as defined by the liberal intelligentsia at home. Mother Teresa may have assiduously avoided metropolitan India’s highlife; but her rejection did not prevent her from becoming the subject of fashionable discourse in our lib-left society. There was — and remains — a percentage in appropriating an icon celebrated on canvas by none less than M F Husain. By adopting the foreign, they were rejecting that which was Indian — this alone was imperative enough to ignore the contribution by Vinoba Bhave, Acharya Sushil Muni or the Kanchi Shankaracharya to modern Indian spiritualism.
What better proof could there have been that they were the right choice than Newsweek, Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times providing lavish coverage to Mother Teresa’s work?
Cynical though it may sound, Mother Teresa knew the power of the foreign media in moulding the Indian opinion which matters in the corridors of power. True, she steered clear of these corridors — but she encouraged others to roam them in search of ways and means to further her work. While it is true that she did not discriminate between the high and the low, it is equally true that she discriminated, with great deliberation, between local and foreign media precisely for this reason.
A former colleague at The Statesman, Santosh Basak, who doubled as the Associated Press correspondent-cum- photographer in Calcutta, was asked to file a report on Mother Teresa after she returned home from her first spell in hospital. At the Mother House, he found a crowd of local mediapersons jostling for a quote and a shot. The Statesman photographer and reporter were there, too. Mother Teresa refused to make an appearance; a nun came out and told the scribes that “Mother sends you her blessings.” Period.
Basak sent in his ‘other’ visiting card, the one which described him as an AP correspondent. Within minutes, he was ushered into Mother Teresa’s room.
That evening The Statesman had neither a photograph nor a report, but AP had both.
As in life, so in death. An item in one of the Sunday papers quoted Indian photographers bitterly complaining about how the Missionaries of Charity discriminated between them and the foreign paparazzi. The report also quotes a Calcutta-based photographer as saying that these double standards were evident even when Mother Teresa was alive: “We got a ‘God bless you, my son’ but they got the exclusive photographs!”
One such ”exclusive” photograph appeared in a little- known, now defunct magazine called L’Assaur, the propaganda organ of the ruthless dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, better known as Baby ‘Doc’ Duvalier. It shows Mother Teresa holding hands with the despot’s wife. The accompanying report quotes her as paying lavish tributes to the man (from whom she had just received the ‘Legion of Honour’) who had to later flee Haiti in the face of the wrath of his oppressed people.
There are also those uncomfortable facts, but facts nonetheless, of Mother Teresa accepting donations from Charles Keating, later charged with massive fraud, and Robert Maxwell, who paid the bills of his unrestrained debauchery with money pilfered from pension funds.
Mother Teresa, of course, had a perfect explanation for all this, and much more — just as she had for the unseemly spat with Dominique Lapierre over the TV serial based on her life for which she accepted a hefty cheque… which fact came to light years after the payment was made. She was an unabashed servant of God and felt no qualms about the means so long as the end was justified — in her case, caring for the poor, the dying and homeless. And so long as God’s deed was done, nothing else mattered.
She was no social worker trying to change society nor an activist ushering in a revolution. She was a plain, though not simple, representative of the Catholic church, a zealous missionary untainted by thoughts other than that of Christ.
Mother Teresa herself never made any attempt to hide this fact; on the contrary, she would emphatically state she was no social worker. “There is always the danger that we may become only social workers or just do the work for the sake of the work,” she told Malcolm Muggeridge. But by reaching out to the poor, she was reaching out to Christ.
It was this devotion to her chosen calling that made her see ‘’something beautiful in poverty and suffering”. Her successor, Sister Nirmala, was merely repeating what Mother Teresa believed all her life when she said at her first media conference that ”poverty is a gift of God”. That the poor should accept their poverty with ”contentment”.
It is in this acceptance that the road to Christian salvation lies. And Mother Teresa practised this with full earnestness. Like a good missionary, she was interested in saving the souls of the dying, the destitute and the homeless from eternal damnation, not in saving their bodies from death and decay.
Tragically, a life spent in the service of Christ and the furtherance of Christian faith was confused as a life dedicated in the service of society. It was this attempt to secularise Mother Teresa’s work and her mission, to coopt her into metropolitan India’s secular highlife, that resulted in Saturday’s state funeral with its attendant pomp and glitter, and its live coverage by Doordarshan. For the first time, official India went into mourning for a person religious, and the official media was used to propagate a doctrine that is definitely not secular.
In a sense, in their eagerness to convert Mother Teresa in death into what she definitely was not in life, the secular intelligentsia has minimised her contribution to the Catholic faith. Worse, a great wrong has been committed against indigenous Indians like Vinobha Bhave and the Kanchi Shankaracharya.

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