Event in India Shows Extent of Fear of Christianity

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hindutva rally's anti-Christian, anti-conversion rhetoric is telling.

by Vishal Arora

DANGS, India, February 14 (Compass) -- Christianity is a major threat to Indian nationalism, organizers of a 'reconversion' rally held last weekend in Gujarat indicated yesterday during the closing ceremony.

Organizers of the Shabri Kumbh led the 60,000-strong crowd to repeat, “I will save my religion … I will save my community from fraudulent conversions … I will save those who have fallen prey to allurement tactics of the enemy of our country to reconvert to Hinduism.” The throng often shouted, “Jai Shri Ram (Praise be to the god Rama).”

The assembly resolved to save the Hindu religion and Bharat Mata (Mother India goddess) by reconverting Christians.

Sadhvi Ritambhara, a popular Hindu preacher whose programs are aired on several TV channels, said, “They [Christians] call us harvest. They intend to pluck us out. And foreigners want to do this to us.”

Ritambhara said it was imperative for Hindus to take up arms to save their religion.

“It is our own people who help foreigners to succeed in their schemes,” she said. “And they convert tribal people in the garb of education and social service.”

She also alleged that missionaries convert poor tribal people by using deception, such as immersing in water both a stone idol of Rama and a wooden cross, then saying that Rama drowned but Christ did not.

“But we believe in test by fire – set fire to both the idol of Rama and the cross, and you will see that the cross will burn down, but Rama will stay,” she said.

Ritambhara encouraged the gathering to mobilize friends to stand against the enemy and continue to work till the whole country was “saffronized.” The saffron-colored flag of the extremist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a symbol of Hindutva nationalist ideology.

Finally, Ratumbha said that those who did not love the country should not be allowed to live in it.

‘Threat to the Nation’

Shankaracharya Vasunandan, chief guest at the function, said that “foreign forces” could be defeated only if Hindus were united and revived.

“Conversion is a great challenge and threat to the nation,” Vasunandan said, even claiming the Christian church was behind Naxal, a violent group whose roots are actually based in communism. He also reiterated the common assumption that all Indians were originally Hindus.

Vasunandan encouraged the crowd to help stop conversions and quickly reconvert Christians. “Dedicate your mind, body, and money for this cause,” he said.

He also said that the event would not end with Monday’s ceremony. “Many more such programs will be organized in different parts of the country,” he said.

The organizers honored various Hindus who have reconverted people to Hinduism: Shani Ram Ji Maharaj for reconversion of Christians in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, and Sindhu Tai for her orphanage in Maharashtra state, which leaders said prevented 1,000 children from converting to Christianity.

“We will not tolerate the coming of foreign missionaries to our country,” Tai said.

‘An Alarming Pace’

Anti-conversion posters adorned the kumbh stage, whose backdrop consisted of a huge picture of the god Rama killing the demon Ravana.

“Conversions are taking place at an alarming pace,” one poster warned, attributing the quote to Swami Vishweshwar Tirth Maharaj. “If we do not solve this problem, Hinduism will be abolished.”

Another poster, quoting Padambhooshan Rani Mai Dintyu, warned, “Every other day we hear in Christian newsletters that India is the mission field of Western nations, and they will convert India into a Christian nation.”

Hindus account for about 80 percent of India’s 1.1 billion people, and Christians less than 3 percent. Christians, however, make up about 15 percent of the Dangs district population.

Conversion a National Issue

A number of Hindu sadhus, or leaders, also took part in a summit during the kumbh, in which they passed a resolution demanding that the central government take serious note of conversion issues in tribal areas and enact laws to prevent them. The resolution was read to participants at the event.

The resolution stated that in the absence of any central or national law, state governments should enact their own laws to “save the tribal population.”

The leaders also claimed that anti-conversion laws formed by the state governments of

Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat and Orissa have proved ineffective because of loopholes.

Copyright 2006 Compass Direct