by Balbir Punj | Posted: February 4, 2015 12:22 am
Congratulations on your highly successful visit to India. We are grateful to you for these words of wisdom: “The peace we seek in the world begins in human hearts, and will find its glorious expression when we look beyond any differences in religion or tribe and rejoice i n the beauty of every soul. And nowhere is that more important than India. Nowhere is it going to be more necessary for that foundational value to be upheld. India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along lines of religious faith; so long as it is not splintered along any lines and is unified as one nation”.
We in this country understand better than anyone else the havoc “splintering” on religious lines can cause to a nation. The beastly attack on the World Trade Centre (9/11) is not even a patch on what we have suffered in the last thousand years because of what you term “splintering” on religious lines.
Starting with Muhammad bin Qasim’s invasion of Sindh in the early 8th century, the war against India and its pluralistic traditions has since continued unab ated.
The repeated onslaughts on our catholic and indulgent civilisation have left us with deep wounds and caused repeated amputations. A few hundred years back, we lost Afghanistan and in 1947, when Pakistan was created, we lost almost a third of our landmass, including the plains through which the Sindhu, the river that defines India’s identity, and on whose banks our ageless civilisation evolved, meanders.
Today, there is hardly any room for religious tolerance in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Ironically, Mr President, all these decades, the US has been a big prop to Pakistan — a country that has been a military dictatorship for most of its existence, exterminated its minorities, reared religious fanatics and exported them the world over to destroy global peace. And, your country had a major role in Talibanising Afghanistan in the wake of the Soviet invasion.
Of course, being next door neighbours, we are the biggest victims of Pakistan’s resolve to prove itself a nation committed to Islamic theology and way of life. In the process, it has become a petri-dish of terror, using its home-grown terror groups as “strategic assets” against “kafir” India.
Pakistan’s blind hate against India has its origins in its religious moorings. The hate war, with theological underpinnings, started by Qasim, has since been carried on by numerous successive “holy warriors” such as Mahmud Ghazni, Muhammad Ghauri, Tughlaq, Aurangzeb. Pakistan considers itself the successor state to this mindset. So it nurtures the likes of Dawood Ibrahim, Osama bin Laden and Hafiz Saeed. Its nuclear missiles are named Ghazni, Ghauri, Babur and Abdali, names that symbolise the victory of Islamic forces against the Hindus, with all the resultant consequences, including massive destruction of Hindu temples, forced conversions to Islam and the genocide of non-believers. In contrast, Indian missiles are named after the elements: Agni, Akash and Prithvi.
Mr President, you quoted our Constitution (Article 25) and reminded us of our commitment to “secularism”. We are a democratic and secular nation, not because of our Constitution. In fact, it’s the other way round. The Constitution is secular because we have inherited the secular ethos of this ageless civilisation. If only a written Constitution could deliver a secular country, Pakistan too would be “secular”, for its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had promised that all citizens, irrespective of their faith, would be treated as equals in the new state.
This proposition was destined to be doomed. There was a complete mismatch between Jinnah’s vision and the dreams of millions of those who had waged a bloody battle for the creation of a “pure” Islamic state, sans the “kafirs”.
Mr President, you were absolutely right when you said, “around the world we have seen intolerance and violence and terror and, too often, religion has been used to tap into those darker impulses, as opposed to the light of God”.
For aeons, religion indeed has been used to trap innocent individuals and destroy unsuspecting civilisations. Christianity is 2,000 years old in India. For centuries, Christians and the rest of the population, mainly Hindus, have lived in complete harmony with each other. Hinduism does not merely tolerate people of other persuasions, it accepts them in a natural way.
India’s catholic character was sought to be destroyed first by Arabs and Turks in the name of Islam and, later, by the Portuguese and the British to “further” the cause of Christianity and “harvesting of souls”. The atrocities the Portuguese committed on Muslims and Hindus after conquering Goa are well documented.
The East India company’s charter act of 1813 incorporated a clause that opened the doors for the vilification of the local faiths in India by Christian missionaries. Subsequently, the British government established an ecclesiastical department and it disbursed considerable sums of money to support the acti vities of the church in India. British officials came to accept missionaries as partners in that “noble” task of shouldering the “whiteman’s burden”. No wonder, during the 1857 uprising, the community of Indian Christian converts was the only Indian community to remain loyal to Europeans in affected areas.
The church in pre-Independence India was a handmaiden of the British Empire and made virulent attacks on Hindu religious and social practices. Among countless others, two great sons of India, Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda, took strong objection to these attacks by missionaries. Since you have mentioned the two great souls in your address, maybe you
can find some time to see what they had to say on this subject.
This mischief on the part of a section of the church con tinues well after Independence, with subtle changes in strategy. Tehelka (a magazine not even remotely connected with the Sangh Parivar), in its issue dated February 7, 2004, had carried a detailed report about American evangelical agencies and then US President George W. Bush Jr joining hands and working out a plan to convert India to Christianity. Mr President, a section of your administration, several European countries and churches of various denominations continue to work through a network of NGOs to “splinter” India on religious lines.
As per our catholic (read sanatani) traditions, all Indians are welcome to profess, practise and propagate their faith. But the right to propagate one’s faith cannot be, by any stretch of imagination, extended to vilify the faith of others and convert them through dubious means.
< font face=”monospace, monospace”>Please use your exalted office to end the sordid business of the sale and purchase of souls, which in part is carried out with the overt and covert help of your administration.
If there are no conversions through inducement, fraud and the use of force, I assure you there will be no need for reconversions (ghar wapsi) either.
I hope you will take the call in the interest of global harmony.