Conversion is in the air again. Heated conversations ON AIR again. Emotions run high. Provocative headlines mislead. Certain media houses want to be heard in the new political monologue. Media is mostly the least reliable source to draw any definitive conclusions, as we saw recently in the case of the “Rohtak braveheart sisters” who turned out to be extortionists.
But here, we will talk about conversion, most recently brought to centerstage by the Agra conversion case. Was it forced, coerced or just fake? Who knows? Maybe a court investigation will find out or maybe not, but the results will remain unreported by the media, for it is not the results but the uproar that is of importance here. Greater mysteries have remained unsolved. What will remain though are the refrains of ‘conversion into Hinduism’.
The event details are of no consequence for our discussion. You can argue till the BPO employee comes home but that armchair fencing will yield no touché. So let us discuss the idea. While whole books have been written on this topic’s dark agenda, for this short discussion, I want to add just a few notes that are missing from the media cacophony around conversion. Is conversion even worth a debate, worth the existence? What is the need for it? And who really benefits?
Worldwide, the only time conversions create an outcry in the media is when someone is being converted from Judaism, usually into Christianity. The only other time is when someone converts to Hinduism, and that usually happens only in the Indian media. In the Jewish context converting from the ‘original’ group is considered wrong, but in the Hindu context it is converting to the original group that is considered wrong.
While every religion’s art, culture, rituals, history and even people must be preserved, fostered and grown with a sense of humanitarian fundamental duty of the universe, for Hinduism and all Indian indigenous faiths, the yardstick is the other way around.
Everything of Hinduism must be cleansed, painted, converted, whitewashed and waterproofed. Anyone who manages to escape from the gory clutches of this most oppressive practice, of course with the help of the benevolent act of ‘reaching out’ by the Holders of Truth, should never be able to come back; like treating wooden furniture for termites. For you see, Hinduism is the root of all evil. The one and only authoritative scholar of Sanskrit and historian of Hinduism, Wendy Doniger, has even written a book called Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology as early as in 1980. So there is nothing left to discuss or dispute.
Let us at the outset make it clear—almost all human beings are good by nature, it is the peer pressure and institutionalized fossils of ideas that cause the problems.
So what are the arguments given in favour of conversion out of Hinduism?
Choice Of Personal Faith Is Human Right Of The Convertee
When conversions happen to Islam or Christianity, ‘It is a personal choice, a right to follow any religion’ is all we hear. There are no coercion allegations brought in. If it happens into Hinduism from Christianity or Islam, then it is nothing but allegations of coercion or force. And what happens when the conversions happen from Islam to Christianity or vice versa? Here is a video warning that makes you think. But watch it till the end and listen to the last line.
News sometimes trickles out of Pakistan or about ISIS, and we witness that it is not the personal right of the convertee that is exercised; tragically it is the religious right of the converter. Recently there was news of four kids being beheaded since they refused to say the conversion chant. But nothing can be said conclusively based only on media reports.
If conversion was so personal then how do mass conversions happen? Entire villages in Andhra or Tamil Nadu or the North-East have been converted out of indigenous Indian faiths. When religious leaders themselves are in dark of enlightenment, what with cases of gross sexual misconduct abounding worldwide and in India as well, how are these masses of laity all of sudden getting enlightened?
Conversion Provides Social Justice For The Masses Oppressed By Hinduism
Hinduism, the oldest surviving system of knowledge, way-of-living and faith, is the epitome of social injustice and oppression from time immemorial. And yet somehow it has survived every onslaught so far.
The newest two global religions though have been embraced the world over by rural and urban, smart and stupid, weak and powerful people alike; like Coke by the thirsty, purely on the basis of their open and unoppressive ideologies. The same unoppressive, welcoming ideologies that carry blasphemy laws and provisions of religious supari!
Even if we believe the allegation to be true, still, why convert? And the obvious answer comes: Because after that, the converted will get social justice, duh! Well, now I have two problems. One, why can’t a Hindu citizen of India get social justice, no matter who commits the injustice? And two, why can a non-Hindu get more justice just because of being a non-Hindu minority? Isn’t that a massive failure of society and democracy? Shouldn’t that be corrected? Hinduism is perhaps the most reformed of them all via legal process.
When a single can of mustard oil is found to cause fatal health hazard, as we see every few years in India, the entire lot of thousands of litres of mustard oil is banned, and soy oil is imported.
Instead of correcting the problem with the lot and the factory where the mustard oil was manufactured, the action taken is to ban mustard oil itself. On top of it, instead of importing mustard oil, a different oil is imported. So, somehow mustard oil itself is bad now? And not that particular lot? Why? Because India produces a lot of mustard oil, and they produce a lot of soy oil. That makes you think there is probably a nefarious agenda to promote foreign soy oil over Indian mustard oil; promote imported oppression over indigenous.
The same is true of religion. When Islam and terrorism are correlated anywhere in the world, this exact logic is given by them that ‘only few are bad, don’t generalize’.
But when something like this happens with Hinduism, a self-proclaimed swami here and a bapu there, it is entire Hinduism that is wrong, to the core principles, without doubt or hesitation. If there is a problem with Hinduism, correct it there itself. Why convert into another religion to get social ‘justice’?
Hindus Are Not Doing Anything For The Poor Masses, So What If Missionaries Do?
Poverty is an economic issue, not of faith. How can religious conversion help elevate poverty? Christianity was well-imposed on Europe while it was still extremely poor. Books like Malleus Maleficarum were used to guide the whole process of imposition and inquisition.
Only when the conquest of the world began, with the guilt-dissolving sanction of the Holy orders, did some wealth pour into Europe. Same with the Middle East. So, if mere conversion was the solution, then every country would solve the economy issue.
What happens when an entire country converts to Christianity or Islam? Is poverty solved? There still are poor Christians and Muslims all over the world, even in non-secular countries.
Africa and the Americas are the recent converted populations (after Europe). And we can see the rampant poverty of Africa, which is majorly either Christian or Muslim. How come they are not as affluent as Europe, which too has its own poor! ‘Uncivilized’ Africa has been a free battleground for slavery and conversion for a long time. Civilized Asia is unaware of that.
And if poverty is indeed a matter of faith, and the most poor are in Hinduism who are being helped by conversion, then why pamper non-Hindus at all, since they are not poor, owing to their great faiths.
The real reason why conversion temporarily solves poverty to some extent in India are the government policies of forever pampering sections of societies on this or that basis—with quotas and schemes galore. They never let people be equal. Abolish the pampering policies that are not based on poverty alone and then see how many conversions happen without private coercions and inducements.
So What If Money Is Involved In Conversion? It Is Helping People After All
If you claim to do something for the poor, inspired by spiritual calling, don’t ask anything in return. Selfless act is the first thing of spirituality and divinity, though maybe not for the religion of a vengeful God. If the richer Hindus are not doing anything for poorer Hindus, why is that an issue at all? Poverty is not about religion.
Giving monetary benefits for conversion is tantamount to bribing, money-laundering. You collect millions or billions in mission funds in some richer countries and pump it in India. Are there no more poor people left in America or Europe or the Middle East? Ask Obama , Greece, Ireland , Italy and Sao Paolo.
When you give money but ask for something in return, it is not charity. It is bribery. Countries have laws against that. Aren’t the recent scams of 2G, 3G, Coalgate, CWG etc. cases of bribery? Or you could call it a sale. Then, while trafficking of human bodies is illegal, why is trafficking of the human souls legal?
If there is nothing wrong in the exchange of souls for a little money, then what is wrong in pimping the mere mortal material body for some money? Even a labourer uses his body to earn money by working to satisfy material needs of others. Then why is it a sin and crime to satisfy carnal needs of others for exchange of money? After all, it is helping someone earn a living. Better than dying poor and hungry! Conversion as seen today is either pimping or rape of the soul. And it is euphemistically called a ‘harvest’.
But My Holy Book Says, I need to Spread The Word, So It Is My Religious Duty And Right
Isn’t faith a matter of personal choice? Then choose your faith and beliefs properly. If you choose a faith of 50 beliefs from two millennia ago, you may find that 17 of those 50 don’t apply now anymore.
You should be ready to let go of them. Else you are stuck in history. If being stuck in a time capsule of thoughts was a good thing, then all of these new religions are bad, because they tried to bring change during their birthing pains. So, adapting with time and space must be allowed and encouraged.
How is one’s choice of personal beliefs a license to encroach on others’ lives? If you want to bow to A or B or C, it is your personal matter. Why even make it public? And if you have to, do it amicably with the current society you live in.
If this logic of ‘my religious right’ was really sound, then why are reforms brought only in Hinduism? Why not allow them to practice their bad diktats as well? One knows about the evils of caste,women oppression and sati but the ills in other religions are barely discussed.
Other Religions Are Better Than Hinduism
This is such a big topic that it needs a separate series of posts. Let us just look at the core principles (not practices); everything else can be blamed and corrected as ‘improper implementation’. The core principle of Hinduism has been a continued pursuit of truth, harmonious existence with nature, a balance, a self-realization with the divine. Divine principle permeates everything, so nothing is ‘other’.
Love for God is promoted, and you don’t have to believe in one particular form to be a good human being. Woman is equally divine as man. There has never been any conflict between Hindu thought and science. In Taittiriya Upanishad, Shiksha Valli, Anuvak 11, the Chancellor of the University tells his graduating class to ‘Speak the truth. Follow the dharma. Only follow our good habits and ignore the wrongs ones’ (admitting that even they could have flaws).
But in others, your pursuit is bounded by the one and only book. There is no harmony possible among various groups, since the sole purpose is to convert or conquer everyone else. Nature is to be subjugated. You are not part of the show. God is surely not part of creation. Fear of God is promoted, and you have to believe only in one particular form or name of God, else it is all hell for you. God is to be feared even by the innocent, for it is a vengeful God! Woman is subservient to man. There have been clear conflicts between science and other religions.
There is no possibility of making amends in the light of new experiences of newer generations. Those who dare or dream or suggest editing the frozen knowledge base, for them there is hell in store, sometimes after death, sometimes even before. And this is all in the one and only original guide book. There is no recourse in case of conflict.
Hinduism says God Himself walked among humans in form of avatars. Christianity says he sent his only son. Islam says he sent his last messenger and no more direct interaction with him. And we can see the increasing rigidity, oppression, violence and fear as we move away from God. The former says you are the divine light, the latter says you are a born sinner in need to be saved.
Real Reason For The Soul-Harvest
So, who benefits from conversion carried out with ‘missionary zeal’? If the convertee doesn’t benefit much after conversion (poverty is still rampant in the Americas, Africa and Europe), then it must be the converter who is to gain. After conversion into the club, one is expected to pay as much as 15 per cent.
There are even conversion-tourism trips where the ‘volunteers’ pay for their trip in name of tourism and do conversion work (See below). Pumping millions or billions of dollars into another country is usually used to destabilize a country—whether for weapons, drugs or conversion purposes.
Here are three brief examples of the business of soul-harvesting and how it is run like a business. Read the associated links for more.
Pope in New Delhi on Diwali 1999
On November 8th, 1999, on the day of Diwali, the Pope visited New Delhi:
The 79-year-old pontiff exhorted a synod of Asian bishops to evangelize the region in the coming millennium. He told them to go forth and conquer the continent for Christ just as the church had done in Europe during the first millennium and in the Americas in the second.
The Pope, known for his fervor to expand the global influence of his church, was criticized for using India as a launching pad for what his critics say is an attempt to replenish the dwindling ranks of practising Catholics in the West with Asian converts.”
Impact Nations organizes an annual ‘Journey of Compassion’. The one from 15 to 27 March 2015 will cost the participants $1,850. That is, you pay money to go to another poor country to harvest some souls. What better business model can you get? This is Proselytizing-Tourism!
“We are so excited to be taking a team into the North of India, where we will be partnering with the largest church planting movement in India to bring healing, medicine, clean water and most importantly Jesus to the Punjab. Come and you will heal the sick, lead many to Jesus, give medicine and clean water to the sick and poor and be the face of Jesus to thousands.”
The Journey Information Document even says this: “You should apply for a single entry, six months tourist visa (not a missionary visa). When asked the purpose for your visit, indicate ‘tourism’. If asked, the places of tourist Interest in Chandigarh are: Rock Garden, Sukhna Lake , Sector 17, IT Park, etc.”
US Center For World Mission
Some excerpts from the organization’s front page:
Research is about pushing boundaries, discovering the boundaries past which the Kingdom has not yet come and unearthing insight that leads to breakthrough.
We must be willing to re-examine the way we fund, support and do mission. The right tools, technologies and processes can speed the advance of the gospel.
Media is about transformation. When we do media well, we change lives.
Jesus has commanded us to disciple all the ethne in the world.
This is sheer marketing strategy of the divine conglomerate.