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To Hell with them!
By T R Jawahar


A clay idol of Ganesha and a carved wooden cross are thrown into the muddy pond under the sanguine supervision of a white-robed gentleman. As the throng of illiterates inhabiting the remote hamlet watch with bated breath, the clay idol sinks without a trace, but lo, the wooden thing floats for all to see. The robed gentle(?)man, now turns around to face the crowd, a benign smile adorning his facade but not betraying the malignant intent, and announces the triumph of the true god over the illusory idols. Having thus proved the superiority of the Son of God over the Son of Shiva, by this remarkable miracle he now very magnanimously leaves it to the innocent, illiterate simpletons, for whom seeing is believing, to decide on their faith ...on their own, to be sure. Through the miracle of the floating cross, the stage is thus set for the crossover of those at the crossroads of their conscience! Then follows a subtle, but insidious sermon that details the benefits that would accrue to those who had the good sense to launder their sins for salvation. Invariably, the potential targets are those who have already been softened by sustained social service over a period and the miracle was only the last straw. Yet another group of errant sheep join the flock, with mutual benefits for the converts as well as the convertors --salvation from sins for the former and a ticket to heaven for the latter not to speak of material benefits for both.

One is at a loss whether to call the above ruse a fraud, inducement, immoral force, exploitation or all of these. These are common tricks that are routinely conjured up by the conscience-hunters whose divine vocation it is to enlist mercenaries for their unholy schemes. However, not all such experiments to prove the superiority of the Son are as laborious and painstaking. With the conversion market booming, what with foreign funds for the asking if only an evangelist could prove the worth of his work in numbers, haste, very indecent at that, is the name of the game. Also, with awareness about the missionary mischiefs increasing by the day even among timid or indifferent Hindus, it is now a matter of making hay while the sun shines and so material inducements are blatantly used as instruments of conversion. With commerce rather than conviction forming the bedrock of such activities increasingly, it is a question of one evangelist beating it to the pile before the other round the next street corner does. And to be sure, there is an army of such white robed gentlemen roaming the countryside in search of wholesale soul-sellers whose penury and illiteracy could be traded for well-packaged religious detergents that could wash away stain and sin, better than even Super Rin!

But to brand these conversion exercises as solely commercial ventures would be to belittle their dangerous portents. Though the package comes with the coating of material allurement, it is only a clever ruse to lure the gullible; really conversions are motivated by deeper religious and political factors. For one, while Hinduism recognises the validity of all paths to attain God, Islam and Christianity clearly condemn all non-believers as kafirs or heathens and quite explicitly exhort their practitioners to convert those of other religions to their own faith. For them it is a religious duty to do so, and it does not recognise social niceties and common courtesies. Armed with such a religious sanction, the missionaries of both these faiths over the centuries have evolved or varied only in their methods in order to suit prevailing social and political milieu: at the core, the zeal if anything has only hardened. And Hinduism with all its plurality and self-defeating secularism, is too soft and dicey a target to be left unattacked. Even the Pope, who was let into this country in all innocence by a BJP government that rolled the red carpet for him in his capacity of a head of State, could not resist his genetic religious instinct and issued a call, standing on this very soil, for a massive harvest of faith! It is a different matter that the crop has largely failed, but the slip is quite revealing. If that is the wont of an honourable gentleman who was actually a guest, imagine what would be the cumulative zeal of resident missionaries who are rooted in this land, possessing intricate knowledge of its social fissures and upheavals and having at their disposal several instruments like money, media, Marxists and myopic secularism. To ignore the threat posed by this combination to communal harmony and national security, would be a sin that no Father & Son duo can salvage us from!

The differences between Hinduism which is pluralistic and Islam plus Christianity which are exclusivist, are very basic and cannot be reconciled. The militants of one and the missionaries of the other are just the two sides of the same coin, as far as the Hindus are concerned. Heads or Tail, the Hindus stand to lose and greater the peril, if the one who tosses the coin or adjudicates, happens to be a secularist. While one guarantees instant death, the other is slow poison, programmed to kill. Well, what about the secularist? He stands for suicide! It is really a miracle, a greater wonder than the floating cross alluded to above, that Hinduism is still around despite the onslaught of this diabolical trio. All these centuries it is only the tolerance of the Hindus that has ensured whatever communal peace that had prevailed in the country, despite dire provocations from these other religionists and the subversive secularists. But the Hindus of the land have paid a heavy price for that in the form of not only desecration of their places of worship but also putting up with insults and innuendos that are always being heaped by the preachers who also double up as poachers, in all piety, for sure. Why do these men seek to convert? Apart from the commercial spin-offs, it arises from their basic belief that Hinduism is a contemptible religion and Hindus need to be salvaged if they were to walk into heaven. They have utter hatred for anything Hindu. Now in the face of such unconcealed derisive intent, would not allowing conversions be tantamount to conceding that such contempt is correct and justified? Let alone the religious angle, should India, in utter disregard of the sentiments of its majority, invite such an ignominy upon its own people just to put up a tolerant face or to satisfy the itches of blind maniacs and blinkered secularists? When even just-born nations seek to trace their roots and cultural identities, in India which can boast of a far richer and ancient heritage, its dominant religion which also reflects its character, whether one likes it or not, is sought to be treated as a boxers punching bag and made to accommodate rank rabid faiths that entertain neither any pretension of religious tolerance nor are weighed by compulsions of reciprocity!

Talking to them is futile; one has to only deal with them. Indeed, the ordinance to check conversions, though a small step, is a bold initiative in the right direction. Checking conversions may not be the cure-all panacea for the social tensions prevailing presently, but at least one major agent provacateur would be under scrutiny and control. It is high time this menace is given some attention. To be sure, there would be a cacophony of protests on this assault on secularism and religious freedom, and of course, wails of pandering to communal, read Hindutva, forces. But that is an old gag and in any case it is difficult to fathom what Archbishops and Imams have got to do with secularism and tolerance. Such words do not figure in their Books! So why complain?







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