Maria Wirth is a German and came to India for a holiday after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, two renowned saints. With their blessing she continued to live in India and dived into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with German readers through articles and books. For long, she was convinced that every Indian knows and treasures his great heritage. However, when in recent years, she noticed that there seemed to be a concerted effort to prevent Indians (and the world) from knowing how valuable this ancient Indian heritage is, she started to point out the unique value of Indian tradition.
There is probably no other country where members of other religions were as safe as in India. Hindus always gave shelter to those who were persecuted in their homelands. Jews gratefully acknowledged that India is the one country where they were never persecuted. Syrian Christians under their leader Thomas of Cana (Thomas the Apostle did not come to India) were given refuge in the 4th century. Parsis came in the 10th century to escape the Muslim invaders in Persia. And in 1959, some 100,000 Tibetan Buddhist refugees found shelter in India – only 12 years after the British had left the country, divided and poverty-stricken.
In contrast, the rich USA with an area three times the size and only a quarter of India’s population allowed only in 1991 one thousand Tibetan families to enter.
Indians never hesitated to accept those who were in trouble and who wanted to preserve their faith because they did not distinguish between human beings on religious lines. Their attitude was that all belong to one big human family and all have the same divine essence in them. For them “religion” was not an identity but a natural, ideal way of life.
So what happened that nowadays there is a lot of talk that Christians are under attack in India? Have Hindus become intolerant?
No. Hindus have not changed. All the so called attacks on churches which were hyped up recently on many TV channels turned out to have been minor crimes unconnected with “Hindu extremists”. In other countries they would hardly find space in the local paper. Why were they flogged for days on TV channels? Why were Christian spokesmen given plenty of airtime to falsely blame the “Hindu right” and claim that Christians are under attack? There seems to be an agenda by the Churches and it would need to be investigated why so many TV channels obliged.
A smashed glass pane outside one church, a fire due to short circuit in another church, a theft of 8000 Rupees in a convent school, stones thrown by a mixed group of Hindus and Muslim surely don’t warrant hours of hyped coverage.
Yes, there was also the break-in into a convent school in West Bengal, where not only 1,2 million Rupees were stolen but a 72 year old nun was allegedly gang raped.
This was shameful no doubt and this news reached in no time all corners of the world. It fitted well into the image that had already been crafted over the last 2 years – of India as a rapists’ nation. The Vatican radio spoke of India’s shame which went viral on the internet.
It turned out that Bangladeshi Muslims, probably encouraged by the Pakistani secret service, were behind it.
Typically, the media fell silent. The BBC ran a scroll that an arrest has been made in the nun gang rape in India. They didn’t mention that he was a Bangladeshi Muslim. Neither the Vatican, nor the cardinal or the bishop apologized for their wrong, greatly publicized pre-judgment of the case that it was connected with the Hindu re-conversion drive of RSS and VHP.
The campaign of media and Christian representatives against “Hindu extremists” is not likely to end soon. New incidents will come up and the Christian spokesmen will again peddle the “truth” that under Narendra Modi as Prime Minister the Hindus are emboldened to “attack” Christians in hate crimes and that Christians feel helpless and insecure. The TV anchors will continue to prod them: “Do you feel unsafe in India?” and all Christian spokesmen will again reply “Yes” and claim that hate crimes have increased since Modi came to power.
There are other voices, too, who do not take part in this back stabbing of their Hindu brothers and, probably closer to the truth, blame the Christian clergy for trying to sow discord between communities. Yet those Christians, like Robert Rosario or Hilda Raja, are not likely to get an invitation to represent the Christian side, because they wouldn’t further the agenda to portray Hindus in poor light.
Mainstream media has tremendous power to shape opinions. Churches have tremendous financial and political clout. Both obviously cooperate to portray Hindus as intolerant and hateful of other religions – contrary to facts. There is a third power that wants India to get a bad image the world over, at least as bad as its own image is. It is Pakistan. The SundayGuardian of 21st March exposed that the Pakistani secret service increased its budget six-fold to achieve the goal that India is put into the same bracket with Pakistan on human rights issues and downgraded by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
This goal has already been achieved in regard to projecting India as a rapist country. In the west, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are now seen as being on the same level. In fact, India stands out negatively: it is openly thrashed for its ‘anti-women attitude’, while it is politically incorrect to thrash Muslim countries. The German professor who quoted India’s rape culture as reason to reject an Indian shows the huge damage that this false portrayal of India has done.
Unfortunately, India did nothing to put the issue into perspective when the maligning campaign started, and it seems that India again does nothing to prevent an equally damaging, also false perception that Hindus are prone to hate crimes against Christians. Sometimes I wonder whether Indians are even aware how detrimental to India’s image abroad the media campaign has already been.
At least the government, if not the public at large, would know that India is neither in the top league of rape countries, nor are Hindus known for hate crimes and discrimination against members of other religions.
They would know that India has presently a population of 1270 million, and that it is unfair to compare absolute numbers of crimes with other countries. If the crimes that happen in the USA, Canada, in all European countries including Russia plus Australia were added up, then they could be compared with the number of crimes that happen in India. Can the media be made to give a balanced reporting on the issues it takes up? Does anyone remember the hype that media created about AIDS some 20 years ago? “India second only to South Africa” they screamed. Nobody mentioned that India had 1000 and South Africa 50 million inhabitants.
If the media were fair, they would discern that the charge of 160 hate crimes against Christians in the last 10 months, especially when those include theft and a stone thrown by a drunkard, is no reason to shout “Christians don’t feel safe in India”? Why do they play into the hands of the west which will be pleased to get a stick to beat India with?
In England, there were over 1,000 hate crimes only against Jews in the last year. This would equal over 20,000 hate crimes in India if it is put in proportion to the population. In USA, several Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were killed only because they were Sikhs, Hindus or Muslims. Should the USCIRF not put the US and Europe on its watch list, before it even thinks of condemning India?
There are several indicators that clearly show that Christians are not persecuted in India and are even pampered:
The percentage of Christians keeps increasing. Their places of worship multiply manifold and are free from government interference, unlike Hindu temples. Many Christians are in high positions. Missionaries have the guts to openly declare that they want to plant hundred thousand churches in India and “evangelize the whole country in this generation” (from a Christian youth magazine called “Blessings”). Christians and other minorities are privileged and get special benefits like scholarships, etc. Christians can teach the catechism in their schools to Christian students, while ethic teachers in those schools must not mention Sri Krishna, or Hindu philosophy to Hindu students. Compare this with the situation in Pakistan and it becomes evident that the “operation equal blame” depends entirely on spreading falsehood and manipulating the world opinion.
How to counter this mischievous agenda? Certainly not by going on the defensive and giving special attention to Christians. “Justice for all, appeasement for none” is the way to go. The nun gang rape has been carried to the eight corners of the world as a ‘communal crime’ because the victim was a Christian. How would the kin of a Hindu girl feel who has been raped and maybe even killed by Muslims or Christians, yet neither the media nor even the police take any interest in the case, because it is not communal enough when Hindus are at the receiving end? Crimes need to be treated as crimes and religion should be out of consideration.
Hindus have no reason to be defensive. Spokesmen are dishonest when they claim that Christian are unsafe in India. It will be difficult to find any other country where Christians in minority are as safe and pampered, as among Hindus. If someone needs to be on the defensive, it is the Christian clergy and they may know it. Maybe that is the reason why they act as bullies in tune with the dictum ‘attack is the best defense’. They will stop playing the bully only when they perceive their opponent as strong.
Strength here doesn’t mean to bully back. It simply means to be clear, stick to truth and stick to dharma. It also means not to be afraid to point out the adharmic, divisive aspects in Christianity.
We live in the 21st century when science has discovered that there are different levels to reality. The apparent variety in this universe is based on uniform oneness. Our deepest essence is made of the same stuff, as it were. The Indian rishis knew this, ages ago. Where then is there place for a huge fire where billions or maybe trillions of heathens will burn for eternity after the Day of Judgment?
What is more of a hate crime: when a stone is thrown at a church by a drunkard or when respected clergy declare without any proof that Hindus are damned to eternal hellfire if they don’t become a member of the Church, and when they brainwash Christian children to believe this? Will TV anchors be outraged at such discriminatory, baseless allegation which can lead to real hate crimes? Will Hindus (and other heathen like Buddhists, atheists, etc) demand an answer from the Churches?
Christians who originally came as refugees, and later went berserk during the Goan Inquisition, are now on a well-planned mission with huge funds from the west to change the broad-minded attitude of Hindus from “We revere ALSO Jesus” to a narrow-minded “We revere ONLY Jesus”?
Contempt and intolerance for other religions is inbuilt in Christianity. Its goal is clear: all must follow Christ. Hinduism must disappear. If they say something else in Interfaith Dialogues, it is deception. The spread of Christianity is not in India’s interest. It is not in humanity’s interest either.
Hinduism unlike Christianity and Islam, has no agenda and never had an agenda to wipe out other religions. In India, there always were innumerable paths to the one truth. It is India’s job not only to honour their valuable heritage and educate their own people and the world about it, but also prevent their people from being deceived, threatened or allured by unfair means to a divisive ideology.
The Churches don’t succeed anymore to enforce belief in unreasonable dogmas among Christians in the west, yet their financial and political power is mind boggling. They have plenty of funds to defame Hindus and Hinduism the world over. India is no equal in this fight, as most of her own media seems to have switched sides.
Maybe the Prime Minister himself needs to point out on his visit to Europe that Christian Churches are on a massive conversion spree in India because they have this strange and baseless notion that otherwise Hindus go to hell. They should relax. Hindus won’t go to hell. Most Europeans will agree with him.
However, I don’t know how much damage the media campaign “Christians are under attack” has already done. I just checked with a cousin in Germany. Yes, he heard already that there were attacks on Christians in India…