Monday, November 3, 2008

Once Upon A Time In Hinduism...

By: Anna Sujatha Mathai

Hinduism once had a large and open heart (Bowstringed!, Oct 20). It can no longer claim that, if the bullying and mob violence by its extreme fringe goes unchallenged by the all-too-silent majority. If there were mass conversions, why are Christians still such a small minority? Hindus too go abroad and set up ashrams and temples everywhere. Hindu literature is freely distributed in the West. The first state-aided temple has opened in
London. Diwali is celebrated right across the UK, and it should be so. It is good to be able to share one’s view of the sacred. Equally, one should reserve the right to have one’s own view of the Universe, which may not be religious at all.

Christianity has always served the lowly, the dispossessed. Christians have set up so many great institutions, hospitals, schools, colleges. Did these not serve people of every religion? Did Mother Teresa refuse to hold a dying Hindu? Have Christians ever asked for a separate state or retaliated with violence? I write all this with a heavy heart. People who raped and killed children at an orphanage can’t claim to be high on the scale of human evolution. Gandhiji believed violence against fellow humans ultimately degrades us and prevents us from building a fine society. Christ too was a radical and revolutionary against a barbaric Roman empire and a caste-conscious Jewish people. India should be proud to be home to so many faiths. Kerala’s indigenous [Christian] church is 2,000 years old; it also has the first Indian synagogue. There was no persecution of Jews here. This is the country we must regain. We can’t be run by fear and mob violence. In a civilized country, we can follow any religion we choose, read any book, see any film and draw conclusions by virtue of our reason and compassion.

[Outlook Express, 3 Nov, 2008]