A Hindu-Christian dialogue

A dialogue between Hindu representatives and Christian Church leaders took place on the 12th June. Reports indicate that this dialogue was the Church’s initiative.

Personally speaking, I am all for such a dialogue between opposing groups (and these are opposing groups) not because such dialogue helps resolve (like a game of chess is not aimed at resolution between opposing parties) but because such dialogue helps lay bare real motives that cannot be hidden or camouflaged anymore.

Quite obviously the Church will look for concessions and confessions. Hindu leaders should concede neither. They in turn must demand the Church be clear and clearer still, as to its mission in India.

The other question is of representation. Who should represent the Hindus? For representation and the quality of such representation, is key to the success of any such dialogue. The Church invests in training their side for such cerebral forays. Hindus institutionally don’t. Those amongst their intellectuals who do speak up for their religion do so because they have taken the trouble to study the issue in depth. Not because they form part of a vast army of missionaries who are meant to play this role. So it is very important that Hindus be properly represented by their best minds. What should be the agenda Hindus must pursue and what should they be aware of?

 Such and more of these questions have been dealt with by Smt Radha Rajan in her two noteworthy and brilliant articles. Inter-faith Dialogue 1 & Inter-faith Dialogue 2

Something of the positive seems to have sunk in when I read the initial reports on the summit dialogue. I have posted excerpts from one such report that appeared in the Indian Catholic dated 15th June.

– Namaste

–Varta–

The title of the report misleads naturally.

Catholic-Hindu summit condemns attacks on minorities

But let’s look at what the Hindu leaders demanded.

Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami, head of the Hindu monastic institution Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, said the recent attacks on Christians were a reaction to “forced conversions.”

He said he wanted an assurance from the Church that such conversions be stopped.

The Church leaders assured the Hindu leaders that the Catholic Church was not involved in conversions and had no control over other groups that were.

The Hindu leaders then said that they wanted those groups involved in dialogue as well.

Sankaracharya Saraswati, in a statement, said India was a deeply spiritual country and there should not be any violence against minorities.

But he said talks were useless unless the Church assured Hindus that it would not offend Hindu sensibilities, and follow up on those assurances.

He said it had become easy for missioners to convert Hindus. All Hindu organizations and associations should work together to educate Hindus and halt conversions, he stressed.

Cardinal Gracias responded, saying that conversion is a personal choice and forced conversions do not happen in the Catholic Church. “It has no meaning, and is considered invalid,” he declared.

–Varta continued–                                                                                               

So it does appear that more than anybody else and certainly more than that immense windbag Sri Sri, it was Sri Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati that upheld Hindu honor forcefully. I am keen to know more about what followed in the course of this dialogue. Perhaps we will have to wait for more details.

Were Hindus lucky to have had Sri Sankaracharya as part of this delegation? Or was the group constituted with some thought? Did the Church throw an open invitation? Or did their calculation misfire badly on them? (They perhaps hoped to score big by getting somebody as respected as the Sankaracharya to speak for them and their ways howsoever indirectly) These are questions that may never be answered satisfactorily and fully but these are nevertheless important lessons for Hindus.

For now, well done!

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