(B. Someswar Rao)
Swami Vivekananda, because of whom the world admires Hinduism, is reported to have met a foreigner who was all praise for Hinduism. He asked if could convert to Hinduism. “Do you believe in Hinduism?” the Swami asked and was replied “Yes.” Vivekananda then said, “Then you are a Hindu.” This story, whether true or made up, conveys one thing which is NOT made up: Hinduism does not believe in conversion as it is not an organized religion but a way of life, a culture with very ancient heritage.
Had Hindus believed in conversions, voluntary or forced, a large part of the world would have been Hindu for many coastal Indian kingdoms were maritime and there is ample evidence that Indonesia which has Java and Sumatra, much of Malaysia, Combodia and much of Afghanistan have imprints of ancient Hindu culture like temples. The language of many of these countries is called Bhahsha.
Hinduism embraced even atheism: its main protagonist is called a saint. It has ‘thousands of Gods’ as each stood for a virtue and many demons who reflect flaws in human thinking. It uses idols only to help the common man concentrate. Its polytheism and idolatry were the ‘evils’ most hated by the other proselytizing religions which believed in using the sword to curb dissent. Millions were massacred by them
Islam has Jihad. Christianity had the inquisition and crusades that burnt non-beliers alive. Both fought ‘holy wars’for conversions and declared that they alone had the monopoly over God and all others were ‘kaafirs’ or heathen. True one of the bloodiest wars took place at Kurukshetra, but both sides were of the same religion and the battle was between dharma and evil, not rival beliefs. Hinduism absorbed all bliefs. Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs are considered Hindus, IT would have made even Mohammed and Jesus ‘avataras’ (incarnations of the supreme) had they not believed in violence.
Adi Shankara, credited with the revival of Hinduism when Buddhism almost took over, sought consensus and agreement rather than numerical superiority. So he twice went across India from east to west and extreme north to its southern tip, winning over the others in debates and making them agree.
In a debate with Mandan Mishra, he accepted the rival’s own wife was as the judge as she was a person of great learning. ‘Avataaras’ of God took form of animals in the same order as evolution, showing reverence for all forms of life. It takes the West equipment worth millions to determine now the distance to the Sun, while Hanuman Chalisa by Tulasidas in 16th century says Maruti reached for Bhanu (Sun) which was ‘sahasra yojanas’ (1,53,600,00 k.m.) away. Every culture in the world is linked to a river; for centuries the pushkara of its main rivers come once in 12 years because Jupiter comes to one position every 12 years. The list can go on and on.
Some Hindu fanatics (the Congress and ‘sickulars; are fond of playing up these fringe elements) want Hinduism to convert. But this is wrong as tolerance, acceptance and assimilation are at the core of Hinduism. True, Hinduism has become a religion and got ritualized a lot. The original meaning of most slokas is lost because few know Sanskrit. But then how many know Latin Christian catechism or Litany or the ancient Arabic of the suras of the Quraan? I had suggested once that no one in India should get a degree unless he/she studied a religion other than one’s own. Inter-religious understanding and respect are essential.
I got on social media today a message of Christian propaganda as my account is linked to a website I write for. I told the web editor about it and here is the chat.
Me:…… (name) is using your WApp account to send Christian propaganda
Reply:Taken note of. Asked the guy not to do hereafter. He is our video editor.
Me: రాముని తోకపివరుండు చెప్పాడు: -దేవా నీవుత్త ముండవు, నేను పాత కుండను(In Telugu the meaning changes if a space is wrongly placed. The original means Hanuman told Rama: God you are supreme, I am a sinner. The Christian-Telugu version of the same sentence with wrong spaces means: To the tail of Rama, pivara said god, you are a bastard, I am an old an old pot.”Jashua proved Telugu Christians write excellent Telugu and this was only a joke)….I already know it. Is it paid for?
Reply: Paid to whom? I am pained by such comments from you. Paid to me? My integrity cannot be doubted.
Me: Is he paying the channel at ad rates for posting the propaganda? Good if he is. They can make money.
Reply: He is an employee. I am the promoter of the channel. For God’s sake, please don’t cast such aspersions against me. If anyone dares question my integrity, I care a damn. I request you not to make such comments hereafter. He apologized and the matter is closed.
Me: No aspersion on you, only on పాతకుండలు (old pots). This way millions have been converted in Andhra.
Reply: Sir, what have Hindu organizations done to stop this? Have not Hindu religious institutions failed to take care of Dalits and other weaker sections? I used to argue with my late brother, a hardcore RSS man also close to Nagpur. Had Vivekananda, the Adi Shankaracharya or voluntary organizations worked for the uplift of people in Northeast, Christianity would not have taken roots there. Had temples ensured better treatment to Dalits, things wouldn’t have come to this pass. Why is the Modi government not bringing in a law to punish forcible conversions? Why not he pick up courage to declare India a Hindu Rashtra? Also declare all minorities as second grade citizens like in the UK? Why blame the helpless poor falling a prey for a few hundred rupees for survival.
Employing a Christian or Muslim is not intolerance. There are thousands of Hindus in jobs in Microsoft, Google and other MNCs. What if they start sending posts of Hindu propaganda? Most European countries are not declared Christian but in practice they are.
And no one has a problem. But if India is called Hindu, hell breaks out. Thousands of Hindus bow at Dargahs. Hindus never stopped Christians or Muslims from practicing their religion peacefully. Rahman and Kamala Das are still admired.
The trouble came only with propaganda and conversions for which huge amounts are collected from innocent Americans and Europeans in the name of charities.