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Politics of Conversion 
By Shripaty Sastry

Indeed in the whole of the Christian-Hindu strained relationship there has been no greater cause of friction than the Christian campaign of conversion.

When the one who is in an advantageous position seeks to force his conception of God and the Universe on the other who is in a vulnerable position, when the one strikes at that which is deepest and most precious in the heart of the others he invites resistance. The Christians of India are converts or descendents of converts whose conversion had been' secured during some period of history by force or fraud; conversion by persuasion is a rarity. Voluntary change of faith prompted by spiritual motives, nobody objects to. The Rev. Tilak, Pandita Ramabai are of such type. Change of faith did not diminish their love of India's cultural heritage. But how are whole villages converted en mass in no time? Are mass conversions prompted by any spiritual motive? Voluntary change of faith is preceded by great psychological revolution; nobody abandoned Hinduism that way.
Most of the converts have been victims of threats, allurements financial stringency, ignorance, deception and persecution. The less said the better about the role of the sword in securing recruits for the gospel. it is an ugly past. The Hindus who had gladly given asylum to the Jewish wanderers, the exiled Parsis and persecuted Christians found themselves victims of proselytisation by Christians.
For quite a long time there had been a continuous decline of Hindus in number; when under the British religion became the basis of representation, the missionary movement acquired momentum. Even a small increase in Christian population and a decrease among the Hindus would bring in its train a chain of troubles, political and social. What ails India's north-east is this factor. It is the political consequence of the supposed religious conversions.

There is something unhealthy in the whole missionary idea. To go to a people like the Hindus, a race of high culture and a long tradition with philosophical, ethical and religious systems ante-dating Christianity and to go avowedly to save its people from damnation is certainly something grotesque! Humanitarian and philanthrophic works are only excuses to enable themselves to go near their victims to tear out the ancient religion from the simple and trusting hearts.

Gandhiji wrote "Conversion now-a-days has become a matter of business, like any other. I remember having read a missionary report saying how much it cost per her head to convert and then presenting a budget for the next harvest".
He further maintained "If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytising. For Hindu households, the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family, coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drink". What Gandhiji wanted to stop, viz. Conversion has been held by the Christian missionary as his basic religious right. The best of them, Mother Teresa, justified it very recently in an interview by saying that, 'Conversion is a change of mind by love' Remove the tapestry of the language, it is aggression an the Hindu society. Therefore, a Hindu cannot condone conversion and he must not.

A large part of Asia has gone Islamic and another large chunk communist. Their doors are closed for Christian missionaries to storm in. So, India has emerged as a fertile grazing ground. Christianity is, now working overtime trying to convert our people, particularly the tribals. The rich white missionary agencies are making use of the country's poverty and social ills to further their ends. They offer temptations, a cardinal sin, in order to effect conversions The Baptist missionary in North-Eastern belt, for example, reward with cheap polyester trousers to those tribals who change their religion; with motor bicycles if they also help their brothers to be converted. In Madhya Pradesh as the Neogy Report showed, the missionaries give small loans of say five or ten dollars to the tribals on interest, loans which they know could not be easily paid back but the payment of which can be waived off if the debtors accepted Christianity.

 On more sophisticated levels, they run schools arid dispensaries, asylums and orphanages and engage in so- called social work. Since the basic motive is proselytisation or creating congenial climate for poselytizers, these services are tainted and poisoned. Social work has now become big business. It is not disinterested philanthropy. To a superficial observer the Christianity centres appear not only quite harmless, but as the very embodiment of sympathy and love for humanity. Words like service, human salvation flow endlessly from their speeches. The ultimate objective is to
de-Hinduise. The people of our country, simple and innocent as they are, are taken in by all these things. The sweetest of tongues is accompanied by the sharpest of teeth. Is it not arrogance going in the garb of humility? It reminds me of the story of Pootana, an evil woman who made a show of motherly affection and wanted to breast- feed infant Krishna. But it was not milk but poison.


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