Behind Mother Teresa’s Veil of Stardom
by Adity Sharma on 19 Mar 2015 17 Comments

Piercing the corporate veil is a concept in US corporate law, whereby creditors and/or plaintiffs are able to pierce the veil of an insolvent corporation, and get at most or all of the assets of its shareholders. This is done through legal proceedings, and can result in a failure for the creditor/plaintiff depending on which State the suit is brought. However, piercing the veil of celebrity-hood or Sainthood built around a person through dubious means does not necessarily require costly legal fees. Normally, good research and perseverance to expose the truth is sufficient.


One of the most unnecessarily celebrated personalities of the 20th century is Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu or Mother Teresa. Her saintliness was created by an unwholesome wedding between White Christian-inspired post-colonialism and a credulous and sympathetic media, with a little prodding from her good self. This later transpired into her beatification and eternal stardom. So great is the aura of godliness surrounding this lady, that criticism, no matter how factual, has courted fiery controversies. So, it comes as no surprise that a passing comment by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Teresa’s motives for her work in Calcutta would raise the hackles of so many people. This amply demonstrates the kind of hold the agents of Church have over the world. Mother Teresa was committed to a religio-political fundamentalist cause, from which her desire to uplift the poor stemmed. But it would be downright asinine to assume, let alone argue, that her motives were entirely benign.


This article examines two aspects briefly. First, contrary to what secular propagandists would have us believe, Mother Teresa was a devout Christian and proselytizing was fundamental to her work in India. This task of bringing souls to Jesus is sanctioned and exhorted by the Bible. Seccond, the hoopla surrounding Mother Teresa has exposed once again the Hindu helplessness in responding to the very real foes of Hindu society.


Become a Believer, or Else, Says the Bible


Sample the Bible quotes below:

-        “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  (John 3:36)

-        “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

-        “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

-        - But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

-        Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mathew 28:19-20)

-        “- For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)


These quotes showcase flagrant fanatical intolerance. Not only do they condemn non-Christians to eternal hellfire, but medieval Christians rapaciously acted upon this command by God’s only son. Inquisitions and crusades reigned supreme throughout pagan lands. Today, the method is more subtle. It uses weaknesses in societies and exploits vulnerabilities to maximize the soul harvesting project. Later, Islam copied this art of exclusivism by unleashing mayhem and bloodshed on an unprecedented level.


Illogical, fantastical, and outright gruesome stories are strewn throughout the Bible. These stories are not meant to be taken metaphorically/allegorically, or as a moral lesson to the faithful, but are considered (no irony intended) as gospel truth. Rejecting any of these tales means seriously questioning the faith itself.  So, those who have given themselves to Christ are to leave reason aside, if their beliefs are to be kept alive.


Piercing the Veil of Mother Teresa’s Stardom


The popular myth is that Mother Teresa worked to eradicate poverty. But that is not what she said in 1981 at a press conference in Washington DC: “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people…” So, as people suffer, Teresa worked her magic of snatching souls for Christ? The defenders can try, but this quote cannot be wished away.


In addition to her apathy towards the world’s poor, Teresa was very much heavily involved in Christian politics. Those who claim ad nauseum that Mother was “above religion and politics” had better think again, without mental blinkers. Her opposition to abortion was fanatical. She travelled around the world promoting this view. It is important to keep in mind that opposition to abortion is essential to Christianity and Catholicism in particular. In so many of her own words, Teresa affirmed her commitment to being a missionary, a nun for the Church, but funnily enough people do not seem to care about facts.


Still not political, huh? The good Mother brashly participated in demanding rights for Christian Dalit converts in 1995 at a prayer meeting. Is demanding special privileges for a group saintly? But when the pressure became too much, Teresa abruptly and shamelessly feigned ignorance about the aim of the prayer meeting.


Teresa was also not enthused about the anti-conversion Bill tabled in 1979. She used her influence to oppose the proposed legislation. Freedom from force or fraud is a fundamental right. So why would a woman committed to uplifting the “poorest of the poor” get all worked up about a Bill whose essential aim was to protect the poor and illiterate from missionary machinations? The only suitable answer is that her philanthropy had strings attached, and if those strings were so much as questioned, Teresa’s entire purpose of serving the poor fell apart. Altruistic service cannot go hand-in-hand with asking the receiver of those services for something in return, otherwise this service morphs into predatory conversion.


From a financial angle, “A fraud, fanatic, and fundamentalist,” is how late British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens described her. In his book, “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice,” Hitchens categorically repudiated the service to the “poorest of the poor” myth. He detailed how Mother Teresa’s nuns were untrained in administering even the most basic aid. The caring Mother let the suffering she was supposed to be helping remain in abject living and medical conditions, even reusing needles to treat ill patients!


Another objectionable instance was Teresa’s proclivity for making nice with dubious demagogues across the globe. The most famous examples are her relations with banker and Catholic fundamentalist Charles Keating, and her praise and acceptance of donations from Haiti dictator François Duvalier (‘Papa Doc’). Does Teresa’s unscrupulous acceptance of financial gifts from questionable sources; her poorly trained sisters administering to the ill and dying; or her undying hunger for stardom put her even remotely in the vicinity of a humble personality ordained to work for the needy? Certainly not. But the celebrity never let these doubts get in her way.


Dr Aroup Chatterjee spent eight years compiling the book, “Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict,” one of the most damning assessments of the not-so-holy Mother. Chatterjee meticulously chronicles Teresa’s financial dealings. Her nuns and their mode of travel by way of the ambulances meant to transport the ill, merits particular censure. He also debunks the myth that the holy Mother’s charity never turned away children. In fact, contrary to her claims, there was a complex procedure for feeding and taking in children, and the claim of never turning away a child is utter hogwash.


That Mother Teresa ran a school for 5,000 children, is yet another canard floated to buttress her celebrity status. Chatterjee explodes this myth, pointing out that if Teresa did indeed have a school of such enormous capacity, people in Calcutta would have heard of such an institution. But sadly for Teresa, no one has.


As Hitchens and Chatterjee point out, millions upon millions of dollars flowed in, but Teresa still didn’t manage to establish a single institution with modern amenities for the needy? She could have easily done so. But she appeared to be more interested in grabbing as many souls as she could, and telling them that when they suffered Jesus was close to them!


Beyond the Teresa Hubbub


Mohan Bhagwat’s observation that Teresa’s service was tinged with the motive of conversion was absolutely correct, though he should have refrained from showering the accolade of seva for the poor on her. That, as aforementioned, is in grave dispute. There is no dearth of information available in print and digital formats analyzing her conversion motives, her dogged adherence to orthodox Christian principles, and the many unjustified financial irregularities of her charity. These instances more than amply bring Mother Teresa crashing down to earth once dragged into the light.


If a Hindu Guru had the Teresa sort of charges leveled against him/her, they would have been identified, analyzed, and expeditiously denounced, and rightfully so. Hence there is no need to canonize one group at the expense of truth.


From small town campuses in the US to remote villages in every corner of the world, the Church has spread its tentacles far and wide. It appears as if proselytizing is a foreign policy objective. So, for this objective to succeed for Teresa, the Indian was made to look like an unfortunate victim of poverty, hunger, and disease, in desperate need of succour. Teresa is in fact like a female version of Rudyard Kipling who believed it was the “White Man’s burden” to uplift the uncivilized dark-skinned heathens out of their squalor and idol worship. He wanted the non-Christian world to be “civilized and Christianized.” Kipling’s stories and poetry justified American and European imperialism. Similarly, for the left-leaning crowd and many in the West, Teresa was the White savior of dark-skinned heathens.


So, with the exaggerated story of severe squalor and poverty in hand, Teresa globe-trotted, bamboozling millions of dollars out of the gullible and not-so-gullible, which she forwarded to the Vatican Bank for future projects. Make no mistake, Mother Teresa was the embodiment of a global evangelical project. That missionaries use ignoble means to convert people is the worse kept secret. She enacted this project on the weakest and most vulnerable sections of society.


So why the hubbub over a small and partially inaccurate comment? For the last 1200 years, Hindu society has been a hapless victim of incredibly ruthless religious imperialism. These wounds grievously damaged and undermined Hindu pride; hence birthing a class of left-leaning intellectuals who think everything is hunky-dory when a Wendy Doniger engages in scurrilous nonsense. This crowd has no qualms about lambasting Ghar Vapsi – a genuine and much needed effort to bring back those who have left the Hindu fold – but loses its voice when questions about the predatory nature of missionary work are raised. This same crowd drives itself mad trying to find a Hindu equivalent to Islam’s ordained edict for causing global bloodshed.


Hindu deities and Hindus are routinely mocked, and it is supposed to be acceptable because, hey, it is intellectual debate. “Free speech is being stifled!” shouts the secular cabal. Free speech should never be muzzled. Can they listen to criticism of non-Hindus?


This tasteless, unethical reportage can only end when two major issues are addressed. The first pertains to the type of education about Hinduism and Hindu history disseminated in the country. This issue does not merely plague Hindu India, but is an obstacle in nearly all countries where there is a Hindu population.  The second is to articulate a strong intellectual and holistic response to challenges faced by Hindu society. This response should not be confined to political and religious issues, but must address social inequities in Hindu Dharma also.


There are several voices in the wilderness that have sincerely endeavored to present an accurate Hindu viewpoint, such as this website. But these media outlets are few in number. Compare this to how many people digest the mainstream prejudice dished out as fact.


Finally, I deeply regret that I am writing about a person who is no more. However, I, along with countless persons of greater consequence, would not be forced to resort to such reactions if the media conglomerations actually did their job. If fairness and disinterestedness were even infinitesimal ingredients in mainstream reportage, then the almost comical outrage would have been relegated to the margins and rational debate would have been the order of the day.



-        Chatterjee, A. (2002). Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict (p. 415). Meteor Books.

-        Hitchons, C. (1995). The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (p. 128). Verso

-        Teresa in Her Own Words

-        Teresa’s Undocumented Millions

-        Teresa on the Anti-Conversion Bill 

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