Sanjivini and the Lankan Raj Vaidya
by Sandhya Jain on 17 Jun 2009 5 Comments

Commenting on the total disarray in the BJP following its second successive electoral defeat under the uninspiring leadership of L K Advani, a party leader said one calamity did not mean defeat in war. Recalling the near-death of Laxman in the Ramayana war, he said Hanuman found the sanjivini herb and no less a person than the royal physician of Lanka came to deliver the life-giving potion. So now also, Hanuman, sanjivini and the Raj Vaidya from Lanka would come and deliver the party.

It is ironical, but truly inspirational, that the shunning of the divisive colonial Dravidian-Aryan legacy and reassertion of native cultural and civilisational values which I hoped would one day come from Tamil Nadu, is now emerging from the Buddhist Sangha of Sri Lanka. India’s Hindus, especially those who occupy leadership posts in the community but do nothing to further its interests, would do well to emulate the example of the Lankan clergy.

Sri Lanka’s Sinhala people, we should remember, are our own Oriyas who migrated to the island a few centuries before the Tamil Hindus. They either took the Buddhist dhamma with them, or Milinda and his monks arrived around the same time. (Bihar’s contiguity with Orissa may explain why monks followed the migrants to their new land).

To return to the BJP, it is amazing how every ideologue (sic) affiliated to Advani is recommending distancing from Hindutva as a remedy for revival, when all over Asia and Latin America, there is a move to protect the native faiths and cultures from the predatory designs of the free traders and their colonizing creed.

Lessons of the 2004 tsunami

After an unspeakably bitter experience with missionaries and foreign NGOs in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, the Commission on Unethical Conversion was set up on 11 June 2006, to examine the conversion of Buddhists to other faiths by unethical means. The Commission, headed by retired High Court judge Sarath Gunathilake, submitted its report in January 2009.

The Report has found overwhelming evidence of Sinhala Buddhists, Tamil Buddhists and Tamil Hindus being converted to other religions by unethical and unfair means, owing to poverty and unemployment. It has urged the government to appoint a Special Investigation Division to investigate all harmful religious groups and cults set up after the 1972 Constitution, and put a ban on them.

Indian intellectuals – who are sadly ignorant of their own neighbourhood and know nothing that does not conform to US State Department diktat anyway – will be astonished to learn that Sri Lanka’s Second Republican Constitution of 1978 accords Buddhism the “foremost place,” vide Article 9, and commits the government to protect and foster the religion. Moreover, Article 9.4 requires that inhabitants of Sri Lanka “professing Buddhism are bound to bring up their children in the same;” and Article 9.5 prohibits the conversion of “a Buddhist into other forms of worship or to spread other forms of worship among the Buddhists.”

This is true nationalism – the recognition that the geographical territory and the religion and culture of the native people comprise an indivisible whole, which unity can be ruptured only at terrible cost to the political independence and civilisational integrity of the nation. Ironically, today there is not one so-called ideologue in the BJP who dares articulate such a concept for India, the mother civilisation.

The Lilliputians surrounding L K Advani in particular, are supremely unconcerned that by peddling abandonment of Hindutva, they are promoting the West-sponsored delinking of territory from native religion and culture. This is best epitomized by smug PIOs, especially those with inter-racial (inter-religious) marriages, telling us that Hindu dharma has become “global” (whatever that means), and that PIOs have a right to set the Indian national agenda – to serve the needs of white post-colonial corporate rulers.

In a recent interaction with representatives of the Vatican in Mumbai, the Kanchi Sankaracharya, Swami Jayendra Saraswati, pointed out that most countries, including USA, UK, Japan, the Gulf nations, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc., “adopt national resolutions and statements of intent proclaimed by their governments and their tallest religious bodies, affirming their determination to protect and defend the culture and the religion from which their cultures derive. In India alone we pass resolutions which officially and legally promote an irreligious and unspiritual creed called secularism. Secularism is an administrative quality; it cannot be the soul of this nation. The soul of this nation is religious and spiritual. We call upon our government and other important religious bodies to recognize this truth and affirm their commitment to protect the soul of this nation.”

The statement specifically mentioned that the “The Buddhist Mahasangha and the Joint Committee of Buddhist Organizations have declared their intention to get the Sri Lankan government to pilot and pass a national anti-conversion Bill and make it law. We welcome this move and strongly endorse this measure.”

Commission on Unethical Conversion

The Sri Lanka Commission’s report proposes that all religious and missionary institutions should at the time of registration take an oath that they will undertake to uplift the religious wellbeing of their adherents and not those of other religions, and refrain from engaging in conversion by unethical and undue means.

The report proposed that written approval be secured from the District Secretary for setting up or expanding all temples, churches, mosques, shrines and prayer centres; this approval be intimated to the area Sashanarakshaka Balamandala within two weeks. The request should be published in newspapers and the decision declared only after a public inquiry.

It urged the government to re-present the private Bill against Unethical Conversion, which lapsed with the prorogation of Parliament, as a State Bill. The Report suggested that the District Secretariat be provided full details of all places of worship, prayer centres, pre-schools, day-care centres, elders and children’s homes, non-governmental organisations and special projects and suitable legislations enacted for their due supervision.

Hardly had the Commission submitted its report and the Bill approved in January 2009, than the Sri Lankan envoy to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, received a letter signed by 15 US Congressmen, requesting Colombo to shelve the proposed legislation outlawing religious conversion (Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka, 7 February 2009). The US signatories, representing both political parties (both are Christian parties), alleged that Colombo’s Anti-Conversion Bill targetted “all religious conversions” and not just “unethical” (sic) conversions.

Of course the Sri Lanka Buddhist clergy is wise after 500 years of suffering under Portuguese, Dutch, British and even American evangelists, and knows that there is NO such thing as ethical conversion!

This is a term coined by Vatican to allow vainglorious Hindu Indian neo-Vedantins to permit conversions, as these gurus are blinded by first class air tickets and limousines at the other end; luxurious ashrams or hotels abroad with adoring (sic) foreign bhaktas; and above all, the faux importance of engaging in religious diplomacy with high-ranking leaders of the Vatican and World Council of Churches, oblivious of the fact that they are only making a public spectacle of themselves with their shoddy disregard for the Dharma they are supposed to protect.

So low is the self-esteem of these neo-Vedantins that they submit to the takeover of even their Indian ashrams by foreigners pretending to be converted to Hindu dharma; engage in the sell-out of dharma under the guidance of these same bhaktas; and even serve as fronts to facilitate easy meetings between these politically-savvy bhaktas and important Indian political leaders. This is not a small scandal by any standards; but far worse is the manner in which these gurus snap at Indians trying to raise fundamental issues about the manner in which they are conducting their religious office.

They now stand both shamed and exposed by the courage and tenacity of the Buddhist Mahasangha of Sri Lanka. The proposed anti-conversion bill is reported to moot fines up to Lankan Rs. 500,000/- and up to seven years in prison for trying to convert a citizen from one religion to another by using “force, fraud or allurement.” Stringent punitive action is proposed for those convicted of converting women or children.

In a salutary warning to all non-monotheistic societies, the Commission says it was set up to counter the “erosion of moral values in Sri Lankan society” following introduction of the open economy and the alleged involvement of Christian fundamentalists and Islamic propagandists []

The Commission’s Chief Advisor, Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera, founder of the Sangha Sammelanaya, said their findings showed that over 400 NGOs were responsible for unethical conversions: “Several Christian fundamentalist and evangelical groups have been carrying out these conversions mainly in poverty stricken villages where people are easy prey for their conversion methods, such as giving food items and by promising them to heal their wounds or to cure them with various religious rituals they conduct in small houses and huts… A considerable number of Tamil speaking people have become their victims.”

If BJP is serious about reviving its fortunes, it should study this legislation and propagate it among the people and put pressure on the ruling UPA to protect Hindu and other natal dharmas of this land from predatory faiths. It should demand legislation to ensure that children of inter-religious marriages in India be raised as Hindus. It should invite the Buddhist Mahasangha to India for public lectures in major cities to teach deracinated Indians the intimate connection between land, religion, civilisational ethos, and the political independence of a nation.

If little Lanka can throw Norway out of the peace talks because a bomb exploded in a Lankan mission in Oslo, why can’t New Delhi throw out American, British and other western busy-bodies who recommend negotiations with Pakistan after every jihadi outrage?

Can BJP dare connect the dots between the so-called grand opening to the United States and the real estate called Israel and the rising graph of jihadi terror in India? Down-sizing the relationship with both could see a sharp downturn in the murder of innocents in India - and please don’t tell me how much we need their arms for security – we don’t. We should in any case buy arms from nations that don’t try to monitor end use!!! Too much of Indian arms purchases seem to be dictated by retired defence officers doubling up as arms middlemen for western armaments firms – a sure recipe for disaster.

The author is Editor,

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