On HimVani, (earlier known as clubinfonet) there have been discussions on missionaries trying to convert Hindus in Himachal. Some of them were concerned that everyone has the right to choose his/her religion. I feel, conversion is a dangerous trend, as mostly it is not the so-called upper castes that are targeted. It’s the so-called lower castes that are being influenced upon.
Also, there have been debates, whether there should be reservation and Mandal-II should be protested upon. Firstly, I feel Opposition in Parliament in India is weak and is just there to see how they can grab power. They have been most of the times been quiet on issues, which they are expected to raise. There opposition seems to be against Sonia Gandhi and not towards the general policies of the government. However, we are not debating Sonia Gandhi here. It’s a separate issue altogether. But we expect the Opposition to lead from the front and show the way to the students to protest against reservations. The opposition from students is fragmented and may not reach the target. It needs political momentum.
Mandal-I did see some protests. But fell short of becoming a revolution, mainly because of the lack of a leader. The protests were fragmented. Rajiv Goswami showed the way, but the protests were direction-less. Today, we need the support of the Opposition in Parliament and show the way to the students to protest. But it seems too busy to find out who their real leader is — Rajnath, Advani or Vajpayee. They also seem to be too busy with their yatras. They also seem to be too busy to find out if Jinnah was a secular or not and did Advani make a right statement on Jinnah or not. Today, they don’t seem to be an Opposition in Parliament. They seem to be Opposition to Sonia Gandhi. However, coming back to the topic, I’ll take the Conversion and Reservation issues individually.
Ashish Puri on the HimVani said, “Everyone in this nation has right to choose his/her religion and also if one really understands his/her religion well, nobody else can influence them.” Right that everyone has the right to choose his/her religion. Wrong, that everyone really understands his/her religion well. And wrong again that nobody can influence them.
Let’s take it point wise. Long time back Swadesh had sent a mail on the scientific significance of the rituals, we as Hindus do… Why do we put a lal teeka (sindoor, roli, kumkum, haldi — all have different properties and energies), or a chandan teeka, or why do we ring the bell or blow the conch or offer water to the sun? As Hindus, we’d been following them blindly since childhood without knowing the significance and we never seemed to question our parents. Some of us though did. And parents sometimes had no answer or had half baked answers. For many, Hinduism is a religion. But it’s not. Hinduism is a way of living. The religion we follow is Sanatan Dharma. For many, religion is God and whom we worship.
Secondly, missionaries have been targeting mostly the soft spots, the suppressed and the ignorants. Mostly, in Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh, or Bihar, the converts are tribals who’d been easy targets and influenced groups. And then there are the alignments been made — so called lower castes and upper castes. As far as my study goes, many of the so-called low castes in Himachal, and amongst them, many have been financially strong also have been converts, as they’d been socially ostracised, not allowed to enter temples, or draw water from public taps, natural water springs and have been treated as untouchables. Remember that many of them are financially well-off. These people have been soft targets for the missionaries, because these missionaries promise them respectability in the society along with the lure of more money.
I personally know one gentleman from the so-called lower caste who’s a convert and has been elevated as a Father/priest by the Evangelists (a sect of Protestants). He’d been given a huge mansion in Sundernagar (Near Mandi) and the charge to convert people. He in turn too had been targeting the soft spots. Once, I asked him why he got converted. He had many misconceptions about the Gita and the Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism. He pointed out to me that, one, he was fed up that while they weren’t allowed to touch the palanquins of the deities — gram/kul devtas and were not allowed to enter the temples, at the same time, they were asked to do the donkey’s work for the devta — like contributing wheat/rice grains, pulses, money in cash, wood as fire-fuel, carrying — the tents, the devta’s dhol and nagaaraas, during the Jagra, Jatra, Shaant, Bishu, Sankranti and other social festivals and occasions. At that time nothing was untouchable. But once it’s in the possession of the so-called upper-castes, these very grains and money become pious and should not be touched by these so-called lower caste people. They then cannot even enter the devta’s kitchen. They cannot make any offerings to the devta directly. It has to be routed through some other so-called upper caste person. These nagaaraas and dhol could reach the devta as Ganga Jal is poured over them. If any of the so-called upper-caste person strayed and ate beaf etc., he was made to undergo penance with some puja and sprinkling of Ganga Jal over them. His argument was that, if they were so impure, why could not they too be made pious like the so-called upper caste people by some penance and puja and sprinkling of Ganga Jal over them.
Secondly, his wife had been ill for long and the devtas or their mouthpiece — the malis had fleeced many a khadus and bakras as offering and sacrifices from them, without his wife getting cured. The devtas, reasons for his wife’s ailment always were that his wife is possessed by some supernatural element — sometimes, by other devta, sometimes by some daayan, sometimes by Bhutbish, etc. Christianity offered him recluse from all this horror and also offered him respectability by getting off the label of belonging to a particular caste from his forehead. And thirdly, his wife too was cured by the prayers, some Christian priest offered for her. (Although I doubt these prayers; as most of them are energy healers — Reiki — I feel, which irrespective of any religion, anyone can do, who has learnt the art. And the same is being done in guise of Christianity. There are many Tibetans too, who do Reiki, but they don’t mix therapy and religion, which I feel these missionaries are doing. What they do is mostly Reiki, I believe.)
Here both ignorance and influence has been used to convert people. One, yes is free to choose one religion but not through wrong information. Conversion cannot be allowed without telling the merits and demerits of it. Conversion should not be done, without telling what good the person already possesses, and what he risks by converting. We see, many Westerners studying Hinduism and the scientific approach to it and adopting Hinduism. Few of the examples are Henry Ford’s great-grandson Alfred Brush Ford; Madonna, Britney Spears, etc. But I doubt, if they follow it religiously.
How Hinduism is scientific: The lal teeka… It attracts the energies/rays from the sun. Similarly, the chandan teeka offers a cooling effect and attracts the right energies/rays from the cosmos and sun. Similarly, offering water to the sun in a single flow/dhaar raised to your forehead level, refracts the sun’s rays forming a prism on to your body. The sound of the conch kills the germs in the vicinity. However, these are small examples. The asna in which we sit in our prayers forms a pyramid. Triangle is the highest energy attractor. And with this pyramid, no energy is lost from the body. Similarly, while we touch the feet of our parents, we draw energy from their bodies and while they bless us with their hands on our head, they transfer their energies, while it forms a complete circle.
There are many such examples… Exhaustive list can be provided, if people demand it. Please request in your comments. I’ve nothing personal against Christianity or Islam. I’m a tolerant Hindu. And I respect each and everyone’s faith and belief. While talking to a Muslim friend of mine, he too told me of the same concept, during namaaz… Why they get up, sit during the prayers, and wipe their face. It’s again based on the energy effect. Every one is entitled to his belief, but following anything without reasoning too should not be allowed.
And to stop this rampant conversions, we have to remove this ignorance. We have to give equal rights to everyone. And I strongly feel, that this feeling of looking upon someone cannot go till reservations are there. While laws talk of equality on one hand, it divides on the other. I follow it in the subhead below.
While I believe, the Constitution framers had in mind to give opportunity to the subdued and ignored, they were right to some extent. However, there was also a provision to phase out reservation with time, considering that this ignored lot would come at par with everybody. However, what has happened — reservations have only gone up. If reservations have to be there, the benefit should be withdrawn for the creamy layer of the beneficiaries. Reservation, if it has to be there, should (The statement can inflame anybody, So let me repeat, IF IT HAS TO BE THERE. The stress is on IF) spread across all castes and religion now. There are many poor people from the so-called upper castes as well. If Muslims are getting the benefit in one state, Hindus, like in J&K should get that provision. They too deserve reservation. A benchmark should be set, that after reaching a particular socio-economic status, they’ll automatically, disqualify for the benefits. They’ll be treated at par with the general category.
There have been cases, where almost three generations have reaped the benefits of reservation. Reservation, again, IF IT HAS TO BE THERE should be limited to one generation. There was an article in the Hindustan Times lately, where it talked to a few reservation beneficiaries in IIT Delhi. They cannot walk as commoners as they carry the stigma of the quota seat that eventually labels them as from a particular caste. While they themselves go through a complex, others cannot remove from their minds that they are special or not so special. On the other hand, there have been students who are there because of the quota and not have been very strong in studies. They have flunked year after year. But they are here, because there was a quota and the seats had to be filled, however, some of them got very low marks in the entrance. And they still are getting low marks. Some of them are in one class year after year. They constantly deal with the stigma of a failure and of belonging to a particular caste. Some of them felt, it would have been better had not they got the admission only. At least they could have pursued what they were good at. And most of them are there because of peer pressure…. parents and all. I feel, it should be the other way around. There should be reservation for the highest achievers, irrespective of any caste, class or creed. How it can work, needs further imagination.
I’ve taken utter care not to be abusive to any caste, religion, or sect of the society. I haven’t referred to any caste by name or in a derogatory manner. I’ve used the word “so-called” to interpret how the castes are referred. I don’t have any political or religious associations and am not a propagandist. I have put up ideas to the best of my knowledge and ability. The idea is to debate on the issue and not to speak in favour of any religion or caste. However, I own up that I’m against ignorance and conversion without the converts knowing what they possess. They are only told what they’ll get. I understand that under the Constitution anybody is free to adopt any religion. I put up this disclaimer, as I speak in a public forum/domain and run the risk of being misinterpreted and misquoted and run the risk of libel and legalities and defamation.
Still, if I’ve unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments or faith, I apologise to them in advance. And to the best of my knowledge, I accept the forum generally does not subscribe to individual’s ideas. The incidents referred here are true to my knowledge and the priest concerned, currently is preaching in Rohru Tehsil, Distt. Shimla, where a few years ago, he was badly beaten up by a Hindu religious group. While I protest conversions by targeting the ignorant, I also protest the manner the religious group dealt with. I feel the religious group should work to remove the superstitions and should work to inform what we possess and the significance of what we are and bring the so-called lower caste people into the main fold and treat them at par with equality — allowing entrance to temples, public water springs, etc.