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A sermon for the Pope

- M.V. KAMATH

Leave India alone. We don't want evangelists. We Hindus have our problems but we can resolve them and we do not require your kind services. Hindus and Christians have been living in peace in India. Don't disturb that peace by provocative statements that only stir up ancient wrongs The Government of India is so scared of saying anything that may hurt 'minority' sentiments that it will swallow any insults to the majority community without so much as battling an eyelid. The Times of India (24 May)carried a story of an exhibition held in Asia House in London of two nude portrayals of Hindu goddesses drawn by M.F. Husain - and the shocking thing is that the exhibition was inaugurated by none else than India's High Commissioner, Kamlesh Sharma, who is probably telling himself how liberal Hindus are and how forgiving even when their gods and goddesses are mocked and insulted. But the Hindu Form of Britain, an umbrella group that claims 270 Hindu organisations as members, claims that it has been swamped by e-mails and phone calls from Hindus who have felt deeply hurt at the humiliation hurled at them. The Secretary General of the Forum, Ramesh Kallidai told Times of India: "In the case of Da Vinci Code, the authorities slapped an 'A' certificate. When it came to the Prophet's cartoons, P.M. personally condemned them. India was one of the first to ban Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses. Why should artistic freedom only be enjoyed by those who hurt and insult Hindus?" Good question. The answer is that Hindus are scared to be dismissed by the west as 'communal'. They will suffer any kicks to their bottoms, accept any insults to their gods and religion to get a pat on their back for being 'secular'. The Pope, Benedict XVI has the audacity to read a lecture to India on the rights of the Church to convert Hindus to Christianity. The Pope is a German and one wants to know what the Church under Pope was doing when Hitler sent 10 million Jews first to concentration camps and then to gas chambers. And he now has an Indian Cardinal as an advisor who should know what the Indian constitution says. He couldn't have been ignorant. The Pope also hopefully knows what the Church's barbaric priests did to Goan Hindus for almost two centuries. The inquisition that was responsible for the wholesale destruction of Hindu temples and the cruelty shown to Hindus has not been forgotten. India does not need a Pope to tell it how to run its government. The best editorial on the subject is that written by The Pioneer (22 May). The paper conceded that the Pope is "within the rights" to "castigate any attempts to curb the enthusiasm of missionaries" and that he would "indeed be failing in his duties if he were to unquestionably accept the supremacy of the state in a secular country." Having said that the paper reminded the Pope about the Neogy Commission's Report, which it described as "a treasure trove of evidence about deceitful preachers indulging in rice bowl conversions" which provided the basis for anti-conversion legislation in Madhya Pradesh and subsequently in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Then The Pioneer went on: "Pope Benedict XVI has also erred in commenting on India's internal affairs that are beyond the legitimate concerns of the Holy See - he has no right to patronisingly suggest how Indian society should manage its contradictions, nor do the people of India need a certificate from him about how they conduct themselves or exercise their rights. Just as India has no business to tell the Holy See how to run the Catholic Church, although it would be within its rights to remind the Pope that an apology is long overdue for the appalling excesses of the Goa Inquisition. India is an overwhelming Hindu majority country and it is this indisputable fact, coupled with India's civilisational history that makes the country's polity and society democratic and secular".

The Pope is a fundamentalist In his conversation with India's newly appointed representative to the Vatican, the Pope spoke of Hindu 'fundamentalists'. May we kindly remind His Holiness that there are no 'fundamentalists' among Hindus? Hindus can be dvaitist, advaitists, vishishtaadvaitists, nastiks, Jains, Buddhists and worship any god or goddess they prefer. It is the Pope who is a fundamentalist - and we don't blame him for that. Otherwise he won't be a Pope. The Church as a whole is fundamentalist and would not even suffer nuns being taught to practise yoga. A Jesuit priest in Mumbai who sought to do was summoned to London where he did. Very sad. Thereafter the teaching of yoga to nuns in Mumbai came to an end. Hindus, to use a rather indistinct word, are more catholic than Catholics themselves. But just in case the Pope does not know the history of Goa and how Christianity was introduced there, he should check with his Indian Cardinal adviser on Evangelism, how Portuguese Jesuits sought to forcibly introduce Christianity in a village in Goa called Cuncolim. Five Jesuit priests were sent to Cuncolim to destroy a temple and replace it with a church. In defence, the villagers killed the priests. The Church thereupon invited the village elders to a peace summit, Your Holiness. Innocently the elders accepted the invitation whereupon they were trapped and killed. The Jesuit priests were called martyrs and, in its official history of the episode, the Church characterised the people of Cuncolim as cold-blooded murderers.

Show of true Christianity? How's that for a show of true Christianity, Your Holiness? Those you wish to damn as 'Hindu fundamentalists' are merely on the defensive. They want to protect their culture and civilisation from alien monsters and they have every right to do so in their own country. This is a humble request from one who respects the Sermon on the Mount. Leave India alone. We don't want evangelists. We Hindus have our problems but we can resolve them and we do not require your kind services. Hindus and Christians have been living in peace in India. Don't disturb that peace by provocative statements that only stir up ancient wrongs. Attempts at conversion are relics of feudal imperialism and the white man's ignorance and arrogance. Any attempt at conversion will definitely be resisted because it is an insult to India and to its hoary traditions. Hindus have no quarrels with Christians. Kindly do not start one. We learnt from the Bible that Christ said that if one is struck on the right cheek, for him to turn the left. Kindly tell that to barbarian Christians in England, the United States and Europe. Christianity does not preach violence of any kind. But they have been notorious for violence of every kind, physical and spiritual. There is nothing spiritual in conversion. It is an assault of the worst kind and in India it will not be tolerated. And don't try to teach us. It is adding insult to injury. Just because Hindus are polite and willing to listen doesn't entitle anyone to exploit their sense of decency.