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October 26, 1999
Fundie, and proud of it
"More than 900 million people are lost in the hopeless darkness of Hinduism. Pray that Hindus who celebrate the festival of lights would become aware of the darkness in their hearts that no lamp can dispel... Mumbai is a city of spiritual darkness. Eight out of every 10 people are Hindu, slaves bound by fear and tradition to false gods... Satan has retained his hold on Calcutta through Kali. It's time for Christ's salvation to come to Calcutta." ~ From the Southern Baptists International Missionary Board's prayer book.
What an illuminating period the run-up to this Diwali has been. Now that, omigawd, The Washington Post itself has published the Southern Baptists' guidelines aimed at converting Hindus to Christianity and called it "an aggressive new proselytising campaign" to boot, perhaps, Indian secularists will see in its proper perspective what we fundies have been fretting over all along. Even so, I know it's too much to ask of the great and the good; from a type whose very aim seems to be to "de-Hinduise" Hindustan, this latest Christian crusade will provoke no more than, "So what."
The Post story was broken by Hanna Rosin -- a Jewish name, if I'm not mistaken -- and follows nation-wide Jewish wrath at the Southern Baptists' distribution of pamphlets urging its members to evangelise Jews during their 10 holy days of Rosh Hashana last month. I can guarantee that there would have been no such taking note of the Christian battle against Hinduism -- if there had been none against Judaism... Furthermore, Rosin writes, "Compared with the Jewish guide, this one uses far less tactful tones to describe Hindus." Now why doesn't that surprise me? The goddamn Americans know the ground realities in India: With all our secular energies directed against those who seek to protect the religion of this land, Christians need not worry about how much Mahasabha -- banned. The VHP -- banned. The BJP -- untouchable. The "secular" establishment's hunger for power-brokering has reached such a stage that Sikhism is touted as a swayambhu religion, as are Buddhism and Jainism; tribals are being persuaded that they are "animists"; and Dalits are told that unless they form a common platform with Muslims, Brahmins will keep them enslaved... All in all: Hinduism is evil, and the rest of you must dissociate yourselves from it.
The story of post-Independence India is the story of Propaganda -- set to serve the "secular" establishment -- and this is the numero uno reason why there is religious and caste strife in this country. However, any group that is repressed, springs up with a vengeance, and the voice of the disgruntled Hindu had always been stifled. Which now explains the rising graph of the BJP's fortunes...
With that, I come to the atrocities against Christians and the rape of nuns and the murders of foreign missionaries and the Pope's visit and the VHP's agitation against evangelists and their conversion activities... There is a part of me that ridicules our silly obsession with religion. But, a larger part is occupied by the Hindu vigilante, one who FULLY supports the VHP and the Bajrang Dal in their aversion -- yes, forget the euphemisms, I detest anybody who seeks to make less powerful my community -- to Christian propagandists.
Look at it this way: If past governments had heeded the fears of reactionary Hindus and implemented measures to safeguard the Constitution -- which forbids conversion through allurement and force -- would there have been a Graham Staines? Why wasn't the Orissa Freedom of Religions Act, 1967, under which missionaries have to inform the authorities of their conversion efforts, strictly enforced? Orissa's Director General of Police, Dilip Mahapatra, has said that he had received a "number of complaints and evidence" that Arul Doss was involved in "illegal conversions." What was the Congress state government doing...?
Today, because there is a VHP, the media, even if to mock and criticise it, publicises its demands and thus propagates its line of thought. The VHP is a foil, a check, a balance to all those for whom it is profitable to make Hindus an impotent political group. The Sangh Parivar -- until such a time that another national Hindu organisation emerges -- is just as cardinal for Hindus' future in this country as is the Supreme Court for litigants. It would be extremely asinine, arrogant and self-defeating of me to deny the VHP its plaudits just because I do not accept some of their madcap schemes. I solve my duvidha in mixed metaphors: I will fight the madcap battle when I get to that bridge. But as of now: Rah, rah, VHP!
We're witnessing the results of the changes in the demography of the Northeast, in Bengal, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur... Like Raj says: "The meek don't inherit the earth, they get sent to concentration camps. Hindus need to learn to push back and fuss." So sue me, but when the end is the preservation of Hinduism in its homeland, ALL means stand justified. Bajrang Dal, rah, rah!
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