I am a Christian. Or that's what I call myself. But I have a number of Hindu friends. And I also have number of muslim friends (In fact, I live and work in an Islamic country with muslims all around). Even Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists are my friends. I like them and I respect their beliefs.
Now, despite my long resistance to speak out on this sensitive topic, I decided it's time my friends heard my feelings. The continuing attacks and attrocities against churches in the Indian state of Orissa are extremely disturbing. The burning of churches and killing of christians - saying that christians are being 'converted' either by inducements or by force is slowly and steadily getting me all worked up. Especially, when I hear that... BJP is even asking for a new legislation, an Anti conversion Law!
I am upset, firstly, because some misguided fanatics - who are calling themselves Hindus - who with the seemingly visible backing of VHP(Vishwa Hindu Parishad) or Bajrang Dal, are spreading violence against christians. And, secondly, because some sensible friends who call themselves Hindus, who move around in the so-called higher echelons on power - are being shockingly silent to this growing hate-phenomenon.
Silence, in a way, is an acquiescence of what is happening. And I think sensible Hindus should see reason and speak out against these atrocities instead of being mute witnesses.
I am sure - all will agree - that it is not doing any good neither to India nor to Hinduism. And I don't think Hinduism is an insecure faith that needs these violent defenders.
The question of faith and belief is largely individual, and I do not think anyone can be 'converted' by coercion or by inducements. If anyone did convert that way, it is no conversion! It is only a display of ignorance or greed. But if it is a conversion to earn the so-called 'respectability', then it must be addressed in an entirely different manner - by finding out how and why they were disrespected in the firstplace.
One must also understand that those of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are infact losing government-given opportunities (of university and job reservations), by becoming christians. So, how can anyone easily assume that becoming a chistian is financially beneficial?
As far as I know, churches and christian schools (which are being blamed) in India have always promoted education and knowledge so that people can become more enlightened in their choices.
Though born in a Christian family, I have (as a child) argued and debated with my parents and church leaders on why I should believe in Christianity. I read books for and against christianity. Even the controversial work 'Why I am not a Christian' by the great Philosopher, Bertrand Russel. And I read books of and on other religions too, apart from the Bible. And I've listened to and participated in many inter-faith dialogues and can, perhaps, with reasonable clarity explain the diferrence between Vedic Hinduism based on Advaita from that of the general Hinduism that people know of.
As for me, I can say with confidence that I am a Christian by choice. Not by birth. And certainly not because some great-grandfather had converted to Christianity. While I do not know the actual reasons for his conversion, I do know that it is not for 'inducements' or 'financial traps' or any such mythical monies. Because I do not recall any way in which the church has given anything to us 'financially' , but I do know that we ourselves have contributed to the churches in whatever way we can. Just like how many other christians do. Infact, some do this very very sacrificially.
Anyway, before I close, I suggest that my Hindu friends read a write-up by a Hindu TV journalist whom I admire a lot - Karan Thapar - by clicking here. It can broaden our thought processes.
Or another link where you can read another view (You must go down a bit on that webpage) by Dipankar Gupta by clicking here.
When someone is really on the quest of 'Truth', I am sure he or she will always find it.
Who is Karan Thapar?
Karan Thapar born in November 1955 in Srinagar is perhaps India 's best known television commentator and interviewer. Thapar is noted for his aggressive interviews with leading politicians and celebrities - his interviews with cricketer Kapil Dev where he broke down into tears, Manmohan Singh, General Pervez Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto , US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and His Holiness The Dalai Lama are particularly well remembered by Indians. An alumnus of The Doon School and Stowe School , he graduated with a degree in the Economics and Political Philosophy from Pembroke College , Cambridge in 1977. In the same year, he was President of the Cambridge Union. He subsequently attained a doctorate in International Relations from St Anthony's College, Oxford . He began his career in journalism with The Times in Lagos , Nigeria .