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Home > India > News > Columnists > Tarun Vijay

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Wounded hearts

September 25, 2008

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I would have loved to see Hindus coming out in unison to protect the churches and say no, whatever our grievances may be, it is our Hindu-ness to see all prayer halls are secure and run unhindered. It's sacrilegious for any Hindu to assault the place of faith of any other brother citizen; the united colours of the tricolour that we so proudly fluttered in Jammu, makes us respect the bond that unites us all. If we don't do this, we are not Hindus. It's impossible as a Hindu, however aggrieved and anguished and unfairly treated I might be, to sit silent and watch approvingly the desecration of another's place of reverence.

I know professional hate-mongers would jump in and cite the example of Ayodhya, forgetting that the structure there was not a functional place of worship. Remember, no one would have been able to stop the Hindus from storming Kashi or Mathura's 'subjugated' temples, pre-independence or after 1947, if the Hindus were so reckless and intolerant. Just see the structures built on Hindu temples there. Yet, we didn't touch them.

It will be naive to say the same Hindus would feel great by pelting stones and breaking places of worship. Such acts never help a religious community. The crowd that did it is the crowd that expresses anger spontaneously and often in an uncontrolled manner, hitting at its own interests and image. Unacceptable, and sad indeed.

But when Hindus are unable to protect and secure respect for their religious scriptures, icons, gods and temples, how can they be exhorted to do so for others? Whatever is happening in Mangalore and Bengaluru [Images] needs introspection on both sides. Closing all options before the Hindus, making them look barbaric and demonising them as if they have surpassed Osama and Church-supported terror groups in the northeast would be to push them into a corner.

The Hindus who sheltered all the persecuted and brutalised religious communities of the world -- from Jews to Parsis to Tibetans and never created roadblocks for the aggressive harvesters of the West and rather mingled with the Muslims to pray at dargahs and light candles at churches, producing a cyclonic Hindu monk, Vivekananda, who officially started celebrating Christmas in all his great centres of Hindu faith the world over, which has continued unopposed � such Hindus can't be assaulters of the kind they themselves have been condemning and complaining about.

Just see if it suits your palate and patience, what really happened at Mangalore. I have seen translations from a book -- Satya [Images] Darshini � distributed by the missionaries of New Life in Mangalore and Bengaluru. It's in Kannada and the booklet denigrates Hindu gods and said Indians worship false gods and pleads for their 'liberation'. 

Where are the leaders of the sacred word and social concerns?

All the incidents that took place were not attacks on churches. In fact, unauthorised prayer halls were attacked where the blasphemous pamphlets were distributed and aggressive proselytisation was taking place. These incidents were not localised but took place across three districts of Mangalore, Udupi and Chikmagalur. 

The only place where attacks took place apart from New Life prayer halls was at a small prayer hall in the premises of Milagres church in Mangalore, where some miscreants had damaged an idol of Jesus Christ. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have condemned this attack. Following this incident, a Christian mob gathered and the situation went out of control as it started pelting stones and disrupting traffic. The police was forced to intervene and this resulted in unsavoury violence.

It was not a Hindu-Christian clash. In fact, it is more appropriate to call it a 'Christian-police' clash. Since some Christians holed up in churches were pelting stones and disrupting traffic, the police was forced to enter the church to clear the mob. 

Stabbing incidents were reported from four or five places across Mangalore district. In fact, an activist belonging to the Shri Ram Sena was stabbed, which led to a bandh call by the orgnanisation -- an outfit that is not connected with the Sangh Parivar.

The VHP and Bajrang Dal have condemned the desecration of Jesus Christ's idol in the prayer hall adjacent to Milagres church in Mangalore. They have also clarified that they are not against the Catholic faith and the churches.

The archbishop was arrogant and rude to Chief Minister Yeddyurappa who had gone to see him. He could have used this opportunity to express his dismay but also to start a dialogue to know and eliminate the reasons for the unrest and an untowardly reaction.

Fine. Can Hindus express the same to the archbishop: your grace, we are deeply hurt and wounded by your silence on the brutal violence of words against Hindus by your people? And more so, since you have chosen to ignore the pains and angst of the Hindus. What do you have to say about the books of New Life mission?

The best and truly Christian voice I heard amidst the cacophony of blame game and wounded hearts was of a reputed Christian scholar P N Benjamin, in Bengaluru. He wrote, 'The real source of danger to the Indian Christian community is not the handful of Hindu extremists. Most of the violent incidents have been due to aggressive evangelising. Other than this, there have been few attacks on Christians. Finally, the sensitive and sensible Christians must realise that acts of certain groups of Christian evangelists are the root-cause of tension between Christians and Hindus. Christian leaders should come out in the open to disown such acts of intolerance. The best and perhaps the only way Christians can bear witness to their faith, is by extending their unconditional love to their neighbours and expecting nothing in return.'

And he advised, 'Will the Christians listen to the words of sanity of Dr Ken Gnanakan, well-known Christian scholar who told this writer the other day: 'Preach Christ, but do not condemn others'. Even Jesus said in John 3.17: 'God did not send his Son to condemn the world�'

Hindus are like that. The aggressive conversions and the justification of it by the 'harvesters' are hurting Hindus as much as any other violence. Still there are saner ways to explain that hurt if there are saner platforms to receive those voices.

Have you seen in any magazine or periodical a story about the swami who was brutally murdered on the night of Krishna's birthday in Orissa? Why was he killed? They keep blaming the Maoists, and have immediately denied their hand through a well-publicised statement. And the aged lady monk, Ma Bhaktimoyee? Should her murder while performing puja be ignored just because she was not a nun and the Vatican won't speak about her plight and Italy's [Images] blind-curtained state would not call the Indian ambassador to protest over her death? How long do we have to run our public life directed by signals from firang-lands?

Nowhere on this earth have a people so brutalised and passed through many a holocaust been living so peacefully introverted that some elements of society call it cowardice. Yet, we never allowed the hate for the faithful of those communities whose ancestors were in the forefront of attacks on us.

But should it always be a one-sided story?

The muffling of Hindu voices of reason and dialogue will ultimately lead to more pitfalls and long nights of distrust. Those who advertise their beef-eating rendezvous with unashamed aplomb are trying to teach what makes for a good Hindu. It is bound to invite a payback.

How many of the church people came to heal our wounds when temples were desecrated and razed to the ground in Kashmir? How many maulanas came to help us forget the painful past and have a fresh and harmonious beginning after Godhra and Mumbai and Raghunath temple and Akshardham and Sankatmochan Mandir and Doda and�

India needed an Indian prescription to heal the wounds and face the unhealthy attackers. Instead we received communalised medicines from secular panacea providers, practitioners of hate certified by state registry.

How can hate for one side provide succour to the other?

Everything this polity does or allows to be a victor in the elections is coated with hate for the other side -- a poison prescription to win a battle can't be transformed to yield admirable results. 

Victims can't be aggressors and any amount of wordplay won't heal the hurt Hindus have been subjected to bear in isolation.

The Christian aggressiveness and offence is as much if not more violent than jihadis. They carnivalised the shameful mockery of Hindu gods through public passages in a show of strength that takes power from an Italian statement, the Vatican's powered protest, and finally a White House warning.


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