A Hindu-Christian dialogue – Reflections

In this my earlier post, I had applauded Sri Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati as the true hero of this particular encounter. I had also expressed a desire to learn more details about what transpired at this conclave.

Its my pleasure to present those very details here as reported at Vigil.

I’m carrying on the body of this post, excerpts that I felt carried greater force  and made the best points –

– Namaste

Exactly one month ago to the date, the Pope went to Jerusalem where Jesus was born, for a similar dialogue that the Vatican had undertaken with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. At the end of that meeting when the Pope and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzer jointly addressed the Press and Media, the Chief Rabbi thanked the Pope for assuring the Chief Rabbinate that the Catholic Church would desist and cease from all missionary and conversion activities among the Jews. This is construed as endorsed and agreed by the Pope since he was present at the press meet. We need a similar commitment from the Church for Hindus.

After such inter-faith meetings, the points agreed have to be faithfully abided. Otherwise there will be no point in holding such meetings. Unless the Church reassures Hindus that it will not conduct itself in a manner that wounds Hindu sensibilities and follows up on those assurances, such inter-faith meetings, no matter how frequently they are held, will be futile and not serve any meaningful cause.

We see the USCIRF (US Commission on International Religious Freedom) as an intrusive mechanism of a foreign government to interfere in the internal affairs of this country. The USCIRF, which has been permitted to visit this country to hold meetings with our people to ascertain religious freedom in our country, must no longer be permitted to enter this country on this intrusive mission. We will not allow external interference into our internal affairs.

We know that very large amounts of money come into this country for Churches and Christian groups, ostensibly for charitable work. These funds should be used only for social causes like health, education etc and should not be used for religious conversion. During these dialogues, it should be agreed that the funds should be distributed to all Organisations who do charitable work, irrespective of the organisations’ religious faith. A common pool should be created and a Committee formed to distribute and monitor the usage of these funds.

Hindu dharma is by nature diverse and so all different panthas and sampradayas co-exist on this bhumi without seeking to destroy the others. Hindu dharma has nurtured and supported all faiths and religions because that is the way of dharma. We expect that religions which have come into this bhumi from other lands will respect this vital characteristic of Hindu dharma and not do anything to subvert or disturb the sense of nationhood of this country. Hindu dharma and the Hindu people welcome Christians and Muslims, Parsis and Jews to make this land their home. We expect from these religions that they will not seek to destroy our faith, our religion and wound our religious sensibilities. We encourage all religions to live with mutual respect and harmony in a shared sense of nationalism which should bind us all as one nation. Nationalism should come first.

Most of the countries in the world (USA, UK, Japan, Middle-east 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 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. (Pala S – This should be of particular interest to Dalits in India since they have claimed a valid right to convert to Buddhism and (to Islam and Christianity). How would they view the Sri Lankan Buddhist efforts to survive in the face of Christian and Islamic converting missions?)

The Church in India must stop forthwith the use of Hindu religious words, phrases and symbols like Veda, Agama, Rishi, Ashrama, Om and other such in what is referred to as ‘inculturation’ tactics, but which are only intended to deceive the vulnerable sections of our people who are the intended targets for religious conversion. This is also insulting to and wounding the religious sensitivities of Hindus. Similarly it has been brought to our notice that some churches are scripting a new Bible for the new converts by usurping sections of our sacred Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas and incorporating them into the Bible. This must stop immediately and all such Bibles must be withdrawn from circulation. We urge the Indian government to look into the issue and do the needful.

–Varta–

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