Monday, September 16, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 39 (Vol # 7) Dated 16 Sept 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 39 (Vol # 7) Dated 16 Sept 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from page No 339 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

Hinduism & Conversion; Second Conversion to Correct the First
381.        There are many well experienced stalwarts from other religions who have embraced Hinduism due to not only being attracted by its noble and elevating principles and concepts but also for its' being the only religion that does not believe in converting others to its fold, is a point well worth noting!  You can counter question this statement by asking as to how many leaders of Hinduism like Sundara Murthy Nãyanãr have been responsible for changing many from Buddhism and Jainism religions.  The point to note is that they were all originally Hindus who had been converted to those other religions and were reconverted back to their original religion.   Appar as another Nãyanãr is one of the shining examples of those who so returned to Hinduism.  In later days Hindu religious leaders did not involve themselves even in trying to bring back those who had gone astray but, only tried the subsequent generations of Hindus from being pulled by other religions.

382.                  A point to note.  As different to religions that took birth on this soil of India like Buddhism and Jainism, even before religions from outside India were brought into India, when Alexander came to India and subsequently there were political and commercial interactions between other countries and there were foreigners who came to India and settled here.  But there were no efforts to convert them to Hinduism ever.  Jews as part of diaspora had settled in Kerala in the Sixth Century BC.  In fact the local king had given them permission in perpetuity, in language as written in a copper plate, "To live as long as the Sun and Moon exist, to live freely, build Synagogues, and own property, without conditions or hindrance"!  Even later when Muslims and Christians came to India in much larger numbers and converted many locals forcibly or by any other means, the effort of the locals has always been one of trying to stop the Hindus from getting converted!  'Live and let live' and 'everyone has a right to their own religion and their own way of worship', has always been the Hindu philosophy and Indian attitude in this respect.

383.                  A matter that has to be taken careful note of in this aspect is that, Indian Hindu Rulers attitude has been to let all those other religionists to build their own places of worship quite freely.  In thousands of years there has never been a desecration of a Church or Mosque or Synagogue in India.  Relate this to the fact that marauding Muslim forces have destroyed thousands of temples all over India and the ruins are still mute witnesses of those atrocities!  Comparatively the Hindu Kings gave 'Mãnyams' which are perpetual endowments and also built their places of worship themselves for the guest religionists!  That is the level to which people of Hindu culture had faith in 'atiti devo bhava' – 'अतिथि देवो भव', meaning 'let the guests be treated as divine visitation'!  To sum-up, Hindus have never tried to boost their numbers neither by going on the offensive nor by soliciting.  Later when exposed to the offensive canvassing by other religions they only resorted to minimum defensive actions for self-protection and survival!  What the Hindu society has done in a big way in the past and in a small scale in recent times against the opposition is to re-convert the errant followers who have been duped away from their midst and have never believed in converting people of other religion to its fold.

384.                  In this respect, there is a major difference between what was done in the past and the approach presently.  In the past they actively opposed the other religions which had sprung locally such as Buddhism and Jainism by not involving in wars but in debates that Buddhism dwindled to nullity within the country while Jainism, having taken many parts of Hinduism within, has become almost a sibling religion of Hinduism!  Even in this, another important point to note is that, whatever the Hindus have undertaken to protecting their own religion, there is no intention or effort to convert people from Islam or Christianity or any other religion whatsoever!  Not also interested in converting those who had become Christians or Muslims many generations back but, only try and get them back into its fold, those who have reneged the Hindu religion to which they were born to in this life.

Severe Punishments for Using Irreligious Means for Conversions
385.                  Till now what we have been talking about are about taking publicity measures for propagating one's own religion by using humanely and reasonably acceptable ways like emphasising the message, social customs and traditions, theoretical strong points and practices of that religion.  But what is seen practically is that, instead of publicising the salient strong points of one's own religion, all sorts of means are used which are in no way related to religious practices.  In any religion, if we take a cross section of the followers, the majority of them will be the proletariat of farmers and blue-collar workers known as the common-man and not well-read and experienced capable of much logical analysis before coming to conclusions, but go by some innate sense of some advantage.  Only such people from Hinduism have converted to other religions by such methods.  These methods are of two types, both other than explaining the principles of that religion thereby creating genuine interest.  One is application of force like trapping a person by giving loans and then threatening that the person concerned will be killed unless he converts to their religion.  Levying taxes on other religious followers is another method.  You do not have to be holding any office of authority.  It is enough if you are a local thug known as the Boss or Dãdã to be collecting regular fees known as 'Mãmool'.  One rate is fixed for people of your own religion and a double of that for those belonging to any other religions!  The second method is to trap other religionists by offering to give or giving education, medical treatment and social service there by getting them beholden to your religion.  The worse is simply by bribing.  These should be clearly identified as crooked means and be declared as punishable by suitable enactment of laws.

386.                  For this it has been suggested by some people that, when other religionists establish schools, hospitals and orphanages and trap our followers, why not we also do the same.  Those who make such suggestions are not paying attention to two important aspects.  In this sub-continent of what is India, if we have to construct schools, hospitals and orphanages in every city small and big, think of the enormous financial outlay required, that may not be within the capability of even the government!   Now if you say that these are great money-spinners nowadays, think also of the fact that they make their money by fleecing its students, clients and patients.  These run by private people are all run on business lines.  Those which are run by other religionists have access to abundant sources of funding.  In this poor country, I wonder if Hindus divided in to so many sects can ever muster such resources even if they are pooled in.  Then how are we to counter those who are buying peoples loyalty to their religion by bribing?  In a country where individual's vote is being bought at a price, should we also as leaders of our religion get into such 'murky muddle'?

387.                  The second point being ignored by those who are suggesting that we should also be doing things as other religionists do is like this.  First of all this idea of conversion itself is basically wrong.  Instead of stopping others from doing it, to say that we should also be committing the same blunder, crime and sin, is totally off the grid.  Basically the question to be asked is, "What is the connection between someone making use of a school or hospital or orphanage and changing into another religion?  In the worldly life so as to get sustenance, out of compulsion one ends up in an orphanage.  A person goes to a hospital to get treated from illness and attends a school to get educated and become eligible for employment.  Where is the matter of religion in all this?  Does anyone go to school or hospital or orphanage so that one may end up in the correct religion?  So, to try and attract people to their own religion through such baits is wrong, totally wrong, blunder and a crime!  Those who show such a front for the ulterior motive of converting others to their religion are in fact converting such noble acts as social and religious service into a scam! 

388.                  So, in this matter of countering other's mistake by copying their act, of misusing schools, hospitals and orphanages for pulling others into our own religion; is totally not acceptable at all.  If they are doing it, it is because they do not realise that such acts are an offence against social service, religious service, the people and God!  So, real relief from this can only be found by declaring Conversion of people from their religion itself a punishable crime.  Hence we should be enacting laws to counter this crime of Conversion by Force or Lure with prohibitive punishments.

389.                  One more thing.  A citizen's freedom of religion is an option that he exercises by his own volition as a personal choice.  This is indicative of a subtle refinement of his heart and mind.  Since a nations' greatness is directly due to the increasing number of such citizens finding their own niche of self-fulfillment, instead of enabling them, to cause hindrance in their exercising their option is a much more serious crime.  So, when Freedom of Religion is to become one of the Constitutional Rights of people of this country, it is also important to take note of the fact that, to interfere in that right is a heinous offence.  Hence publicity of one's religion based on lies, criticism of others religion based on spinning of canards, luring others by bribes and 'something extra', and use of compulsion in any form; has to be legally identified and declared an offence carrying deterrent punishment.

390.                  But, when religious conversion is effected by luring and trapping, the crime is very difficult to identify and prove.  Even when accused they can get away with the excuse that, their religion stands for the principle of universal service and not only for followers of their own religion.  But looking deep into facts such as, people who have been so converted, their numbers, their social standing, standard of education, their level of understanding and comprehension, this truth can be found out.  If the government is truly interested in the intellectual growth of the country, it will classify this offence along with looting of property, and besmirching of a woman's honour; giving it the attention such offences deserve, and carry out an in-depth study and analysis, identify the culprits and punish them.  As such an act of denying a person's choice is harming one's mental, intellectual and spiritual ennoblement, this offence of duping people in to another religion than the one to which he or she is born-to; is an offence worse than looting of property and dishonour and defilement of a woman's character!

Enabling Return to One's Religion
391.                  Just because there is an act against it, no offence is prevented completely.  In all countries despite the prohibitive acts, all crimes continue to be committed.  Thus instead of personal choice, if people are converted to other religions, as long as such conversions do take place; as a counter to it, people should be permitted and enabled to return to their Mother Religion without considering such Re-conversion at par with Conversion.
(To be continued.)



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