Interfaith dialogue: in whose interest? - II
by B R Haran on 19 Jun 2009 4 Comments

Inculturation techniques
When the hosts are divided, the guest will enjoy! As Hindus stand divided, the Church and Missionaries are deep into an activity called “Inculturation.” This is nothing but copying our traditional practices like wearing saffron robes, rudraksha and tulsi malas, pilgrimage by padayatra, astotra and sahasranama archana for Jesus, composing songs on Jesus and Mary on the tune of our devotional hymns, calling Mary as Mariamman, planting crosses and constructing prayer houses and churches (unauthorized) on hills and creating a ‘girivalam’ path around them and so on more. This is outrageous and provocative, and must be stopped at once. 

An organization called “Shantivanam” in Tiruchi indulges in such blatant inculturation techniques and has already spread its wings to famous temple towns like Tiruvannamalai to wreak havoc among millions of Hindu devotees. It allegedly interferes with the affairs of Sri Ramana Ashram as well. Such organizations are tacitly supported by church and missionaries. The Hindu scriptures have been distorted to suit biblical messages and such distortions have been distributed through brochures, pamphlets and leaflets. As Hindus were unable to get their act together, the Churches started reaping heavy harvests.

Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha and Vatican’s disregard

It was under these circumstances that the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha was formed, thanks to a few noble souls who felt the need for united action and understood the imminent danger facing the nation. The HDAS came into being in 2002 as the apex body to provide leadership and a collective voice for Hindus; at present more than 130 swamis (sampradaya heads) across the country are members. 

The first interfaith meeting organised jointly by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches took place in May 2006. The Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha posted its decisions on its website, but remained remarkably coy about whether or not it participated in the deliberations officially on behalf of the HDAS or not. BJP leader L K Advani’s prime acolyte Sudheendra Kulkarni later went on record to say he was there, but nothing more could be gleaned about whom he represented at the gathering.

The Hindu tragedy is that some globe-trotting swamis with western bhaktas have grabbed a media profile while yielding to the devious tactics of Vatican and the World Council of Churches, encouraging them to pursue their evangelical activities unfettered. The Roman Catholic Church came out with a most outrageous ‘New Community Bible’ christened as the “Indian Bible,” which included sacred verses from the Ithihasas, Gita, Vedas and Upanishads. 

This Hybrid Bible depicted Virgin Mary barefoot, wearing a sari and sporting a bindi on her forehead, a naked baby Jesus on one shoulder, standing beside Joseph clad in loincloth and turban. It was released in June 2008 and a print run of 30,000 copies sold out in a week in Mumbai; many shops limited distribution to three copies per person. Some famous bookshops in Delhi reported that even “Hindus” bought copies of the Indian Bible! 

The hybrid Bible was reportedly conceived in the 1980s. The Indian Catholic clergy deputed over 20 experts on Christianity and Indian Religions to devise a commentary that would help Indian converts – the end product was the so-called “Indian Bible”! The Catholic Bishops Conference of India approved it and Vatican blessed the initiative.

This goes to show the weight given by Vatican and the Catholic community to resolutions of even the highly tilted interfaith conference held at the Vatican in May 2006. This reinforces the view that interfaith dialogue is a farce aimed at only deceiving Hindus. 

Exactly parallel to the launch of the Indian Bible by the Mumbai Catholic Diocese, the Madras Catholic Diocese inaugurated a Tamil film project on the mythical St. Thomas. The aim was to establish as historical fact the mythology of the arrival of St. Thomas’s on the shores of Madras, his supposed acquaintance with the Tamil weaver-saint Thiruvalluvar in Mylapore, and finally his death at the hands of a Tamil Brahmin. Ironically, the present Pope Benedict XVI has categorically refuted the story of St. Thomas’s travel to South India. Despite this refutation, the Vatican extended its blessings for the movie project, another instance of the hypocrisy and duplicity of the Church.

GFCH vs. Islam and Christianity         

Just six months before the launch of the Indian Bible and inauguration of the St. Thomas film, the Global Foundation for Civilisational Harmony (GFCH) India, was launched in Delhi on 22 January 2008. The function was attended by religious leaders of all faiths, viz. the Dalai Lama, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Baba Ramdev, Akal Takht chief Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, Swami Nityanand, Swami Mitrananda, Jain Muni Sumermal, Mumbai Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband chief Maulana Mohammad Ali Madani, Rabbi Ezekiel Issac Malekar and Swami Prajnan Mitranand. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam delivered the presidential address. 

The point being made here is that right after attending the launch of GFCH and supporting its initiatives, Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias went ahead and launched the strange hybrid beast called “Indian Bible,” thus making a mockery of civilisational harmony!  He had the temerity to say, “I am sure this Bible, made in India and for Indians, will bring the word of God closer to millions of our people, not only Christians.”

Despite this, many Hindu organisations don’t realise the threat Christianity poses to the dharma. The GFCH went on to conduct a “Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair” in February 2009, during the inauguration of which some revered heads spoke about “common” traits and the ‘oneness’ of all faiths! The GFCH announced intention of conducting such spiritual and service fairs exclusively for Islam and Christianity as well. 

The GFCH took the initiative to work with Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband to hold rallies against terrorism and promote religious harmony in different parts of India. The GFCH believed its initiative resulted in Deoband issuing a ‘Fatwa’ against terrorism and describing such violent activities as Un-Islamic. The fatwa was followed by a series of bomb blasts in Jaipur on 13 May 2008, resulting in the death of 63 innocent persons and injuries to over 200, including women and children. 

An anti-terrorism global peace conference, organised in New Delhi on 31 May 2008, had the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and several other Muslim bodies issue a “fatwa” against terrorism. As per GFCH, the conference adopted a seven-point declaration condemning the propaganda that “regards terrorism as synonymous with jihad.” “There is a world of difference between terrorism and jihad. Jihad is constructive and terrorism is destructive. Jihad is for the establishment of peace… terrorism is the gravest crime as held by Koran and Islam,” the declaration said 
(Ref: ).

Again this fatwa was followed by serial blasts on 25 July 2008 in Bangalore (2 killed, 25 injured), serial blasts in Ahmedabad on 26 July 2008 (56 killed, over 200 injured), blasts on 13 September 2008 in New Delhi (30 killed, over 100 injured), blasts on 27 September 2008 in Delhi (3 dead, 23 injured) and the Mumbai terror attack for three days between 26 to 29 November 2009, which took the lives of 173 innocent people and injured over 300 persons.

The unabated and continuous terror attacks, despite the so-called fatwas by Islamic organizations, expose the ‘drama’ played by Deoband and others. The fatwas were a response to silence criticism that Muslim clerics remain silent spectators of Islamic terrorism. It seems the Shia concept of “taqiyaa” (lying for the sake of the faith) was utilized to whitewash the concept of ‘jihad’ and issue a ‘fatwa’ condemning it. Clearly and unfortunately, the GFCH was unequal to the political skills of Deoband Dar-ul-Uloom.

(To be continued…)
The author is a senior journalist; he lives in Chennai 

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