The politics of ghar vapasi
by C I Issac on 09 Apr 2015 4 Comments

Article 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees its citizen the right to practice and propagate their religion. It doesn’t mean total destruction of the other man’s religion or non-hierarchical unorganized religions. This right is not conferred only to a particular religion; it is applicable irrespective of all religions and religious practices of India. It is not a constitutional provision for one-way traffic or a non-return valve.


In no way with this article did the founding fathers think of any sort of conversion. Their intention was the healthy coexistence of all cultures and religious groups. Conversion by brainwashing, coercion, allurement, incentives, etc. is cruel in cultural terms. So it doesn't come under the purview of Article 25. Such subversive practices seem just under the law of the wild, that is, might is right, or matsya nyaya (law of the fishes).


The architects of our Constitution were well aware of the fact that the death of a religion is the death of a particular culture or sub-culture or a civilization associated with that religion. As observed by Arnold J Toynbee, every civilization has a universal Church (religion). Hence, religion and human civilization have an umbilical link. Each civilization, whether small or large or extra-large, has its own knowledge system. For instance, today our alleged socialized social orders are pursuing the pharmaceuticals of our tribal social orders. These have a substantial, objective, and observationally demonstrated information framework, obtained through generations. We, as an enlightened society, are bound to secure all societies and their commitments.


With the death of the Inca, Maya, ancient Greek or Roman civilizations, mankind lost an immense knowledge system. The technology behind the ‘Golden Raft’ of the Mexicans was buried along with their en masse conversion to European religions. The above mentioned lost civilizations had their own religious practices. They were naturally evolved religions, that is, they had no founders. So they never discussed the spread of their religious frontiers. Almost all these civilizations died of the wild and brutal interference of founder-oriented religions.


They indiscriminately destroyed whatever they found in their targeted (prey) societies or religions which they found indigestible. In India, Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji burned the library of Nalanda University on the ground that the contents of the books there were not in conformity with the message of his religious books and founder of his faith. The destruction of Nalanda is not the loss of Hindus; it is a loss to mankind.


The above narrative is essential in the context of recent deliberations over ghar vapasi. Certain media and Church circles contend that this movement began only after 26 May 2014. But this is not a new movement begun by the ever-shrinking Hindu society. It was started as the shuddhi movement in the 19th century by Arya Samaj leader, Swami Dayananda Saraswati.


RC Majumdar observes that the purpose of shuddhi was national in character: “to realize the ideal of unifying India nationally, socially and religiously” (An Advanced History of India, p 878). Since the fall of the Rajputs in the Second Battle of Tarain, Muslim dogmatists brutally and ferociously converted Hindus to Islam. The Muslim population of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are the ‘lost sheep’ of Hindu dharma. From the 16th century onwards, Christians have been in action, carving out sizable numbers to their fold by using fourfold tactics (chatur-upayam). In this situation, a proud Hindu could not remain a silent onlooker. That is why Swami Dayananda Saraswati took the lead and the tempo continues unobtrusively. After the 1921 Moplah riot of Malabar, the British Indian Government issued license to Arya Samaj to reconvert those forced to abdicate Hindu Dharma and willing to return to their poorva-dharma. The status of this license is still in force. Since then, thousands have returned to their original faith. Every State’s gazettes since 1947 will prove the tempo of ghar vapasi in the Republic of India.


Attacks on places of worships are not a new incident in either, and are due to varied reasons, such as local issues, personal vengeance. We may cite some attacks on churches prior to April 2014. The Catholic Church at Kuddu, Lohardaga district, Jharkhand, was ransacked and the priest injured in the last week of August 2004. The church complex is hardly a kilometer from Kuddu police station, but no arrests have been made so far. It was the second attack in three months, the previous one being June 9 the same year, when the UPA was in power.


In Orissa, a Catholic church was attacked by 300 persons, its idols and holy costumes destroyed and altar burned. The Prime Minister then was Dr. Manmohan Singh (Malayala Manorama, Kottayam, August 28, 2004). On 29 August 2004, Fr. Job Chittilappally (71), Vicar of St. Varaprasada Matha Church, Thurithiparambu near Chalakudi in Kerala, was found dead with stab injuries (The Hindu, Kochi). Dr Singh was the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister was AK Anthony; he resigned the same day.


In all these incidents, the Church hierarchies found no fault with the government. Then we have the mysterious deaths within the four walls of convents in India, which meet with mysterious silence…


The psychology of the Church is religious and political. They want a halo of martyrdom because martyrs and saints are fuel for the gargantuan engines of the church (like jihadis for Islam) without which it cannot sustain. As Dr S Radhakrishnan observed, “The intolerance of narrow monotheism is written in letters of blood across the history of mankind from the time when first the tribes of Israel burst into the land of Canaan. The worshippers of the one Jealous God are egged on to aggressive wars against people of alien cults.They invoke Divine Sanction for the cruelties inflicted on the conquered. The spirit of old Israel is inherited by Christianity and Islam. Wars of Religion which are the outcome of fanaticism that prompts and justifies the extermination of aliens of different creeds are particularly unknown in Hindu India”. (The Hindu View of Life, 1927, Oxford University, p 55)


This aspect was visible during the third and last phase of campaigning for the Delhi Assembly poll earlier this year, when a small demonstration of Christians received disproportionate publicity as a signal to all members of the community to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since then, the religious and secular leaders of various Christian denominations have successfully put the community at the centre of an anti-BJP fledgling movement, the full dimensions and objectives of which are yet to unravel.  

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