By: M.R. Lalu
The Supreme Court’s latest observations on the conversion menace calling it a ‘serious issue’ finger-point on the dangerous trends of illegitimate religious conversion activities in India. Various denominations of Christianity are going hammer and tongs with their universal missionary might to convert people to their fold. Through their centuries of history the semitic religions give us inscriptions on the ruthless demeanours of their organised conversions by literally misleading people across the globe or in some cases with the strength of their sophisticated weaponry. India has always been subjected to such hard-nosed cruelty of cultural invasions by semitic religions. Christianity in India has a representation of 2.5 % of the total population while Islam constitutes more than 16%. India’s more sparsely populated North East holds a relatively large share of Christian population. With massive conversions being carried out among the tribal population of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya, the Christian missionaries established strong dominance in this region. Arunachal Pradesh also holds a large number of Christian population irrespective of its Indigenous Faith activities gaining momentum.
About 37% of the Christian population represents the Catholic Church in India and the remaining populace is scattered among different denominations. The legal efforts made by Ashwini Upadhyay, an advocate in the Supreme Court brought the conversion menace in the purview of the apex court and the court for all good reasons told the petitioner not to politicise the issue while it upheld the seriousness of the matter. The court in effect agreed to the fact that fraudulent conversion activities are happening in India and in many places innocent Hindus are trapped into the dubious version of spirituality through miracle crusades or lured uncontrollably that poverty of people became a strong weapon for the missionaries to mount their harvest. Kerala holds the single largest Christian population in India. It has the credit of being the place where Christianity had set its footprints first. Comprising about 20% of the state’s population, Christianity is one of the most effective political forces in the state.
Why conversion? Religions busy in conversion are besieged by the theological belief that their Gods hold the key to salvation and the only path that leads to heavenly liberation is offered by their practices. The political attitude behind religious conversion is the most dangerous. Semitic religions believe in increasing the number of followers by any means. And Hinduism, for that matter offers a polytheistic belief system which is capable to assiduously grant liberty to the follower to whichever deity he feels suitable for him to follow. It offers a bandwagon of deities to those who follow the principles of Hinduism and that is the main reason behind its non-acrimonious behaviour and it is hesitant to vociferously espouse it as the most glorious religion. The essential political view that is playing behind the conversion mechanics is to divide the world into two as believers and non-believers.
In the disguise of charity and service, Christianity has always been adopting a diplomatic shrewdness while it spread its conversion activities. It never denounces Hinduism forthright. It pretends to accept the value system that the Hindus follow at the first place and later comes out with its dubious plans to demean the Hindu way of life and try to establish its power bringing a fuller and confusing version of ultimate solace to the problems that a normal person encounters. The Christian theology espouses love for humanity peripherally but the deepening impact of the version of conversion it runs on the non-believers is a profound proof for its expansionist mindset. Why is conversion spiritually a nasty idea? Leaving the political aspirations of the semitic religions aside, let us look at the spiritual fallout of conversion. Greatness of any faith depends on the spiritual depth and purity of its belief systems and its ability to convince people about its unfathomable values and wonderful practices. Emboldened by its one book, one God and one prophet theology; churches across the globe remained a political power-group to mobilize their unsuspecting activities which later would turn out to be platforms for massive conversions. Failing to provide a cultural variety, Christianity in the lands where once it was dominant, began to shrink and face adverse situations.
The Supreme Court’s observation saying the ‘issue at hand was very serious’ was a crucial remark on the conversion lobby that takes asylum behind veiled magnanimity and charity. The court appreciated the idea of charity but it questioned its concealed intentions. Appallingly, Christian theology with its western mindset can be seen in conflict with the pluralism of Hinduism. It was at war with everything that questioned its authority. Global human history tells tales of persecution run on the indigenous people by the united missionary mindset and its hanky-panky interventions. India’s appeasement politics have often been supportive to the conversion lobby. The danger emanates from the political side of Christian theology and its candid authorisation of proselytization as an act of divine intervention is the real issue that the Indic religions are to be aware of.
Why conversion is a menace? Conversion happens as part of a global agenda. Pope John Paul II during his visit to India and while addressing an interreligious gathering said that religious freedom constitutes the very heart of human rights. His three-day visit to India witnessed him present his global agenda. He said that the inviolability of human rights is such that individuals must be recognized as having the right even to change their religion. But he was least bothered about the indoctrination that the conversion process would take a person through. The convert, in a way, is seduced to not give any heed to his inner- consciousness and the churches all over the world deliberately deny a clean line between indoctrination and inner-consciousness. Mahatma Gandhi had extensively written against religious conversions and his views underscored the need of a convert to follow his own ancestral faith with deep understanding rather than getting converted.
The Anti-conversion Bill passed in many states with its clear objectives defines why conversion is objectionable. ‘No person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, nor shall any person abet or conspire for conversions.’ Gandhi, in his article in the Harijan eloquently calls conversion a grave error and the greatest impediment to the world’s progress toward peace. India’s innate wisdom, according to him, considers different religions as beautiful flowers from the same garden or they are the branches of the same majestic tree. Indoctrination to the extent of turning the converts against their own ancestral faith and declaring war against it is the biggest challenge in every society. Swami Vivekananda seemed to have a clear idea on the deliberate denial and disrespect with which the missionary interventions happen. “Every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more’’ he said. Conversion activities, with all their mendaciousness, became a threat to the country’s cohesive religious existence. There cannot be double standards while dealing with this menace.
(The author is a Freelance Journalist/Author of “India @ 75- A Contemporary Approach”)
The Conversion Menace
By: M.R. Lalu