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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Who's the real Hindu?

Abstracts from the article “Conversions”

The article " Who's the real Hindu" by Karan Thapar follows my commentary.

The problems with conversions are not religious in nature. If all paths lead to God and all rivers go to the same ocean. What is the problem if some one wants to take a different path?

If you happen to love Gulab Jamun and your friend loves Laddu. Neither of you could explain why one is better than the other. No scientist, nutritionist, dietician, aesthetician, food connoisseur or any one can ever prove that one is better than the other. Your taste buds don't care any explanation; you will continue to enjoy what you have enjoyed. That is the general rule, however, some are willing to expand their horizons and some are willing to change and might find the other desserts more appealing to them. So be it. What is it to me or you if one becomes a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai, Buddhist or an atheist?

Bottom line Let people chose what they want to believe. The market should be free to ideas, go ahead and compete with pleasantness, offer the incentives, give the needy a job, and provide food and shelter. Let it be open and competitive. How does it affect me? It will affect me if they are bad guys, they will be bad guys no matter what religion they wear. Why blame religion? Let's take religion as a conflict item out of our lives and we will be fine. Let religion make us hunger for the knowledge of unknown. Let religion make us search and seek the truth in all the holy books. Let no one own any religion, let any one choose what ever faith they want. Let us be God like, with an expansive mind to enjoy the beauty of every holy book. Accusing Islam or Christianity that they made forced conversion will not do any good now other than frustrating oneself. Neither the people nor their progeny will revert back by force today.

We are living in a different era and we need to spend our energies in building a better world. How does it matter if you want to enjoy Laddu or Gulab Jamun? There is no compulsion on taste buds, if you don't like Broccoli that is your choice; I enjoy Broccoli even if the former President did not like it.

You and I are responsible for creating a better world, not the Government, not the Clergy and not even God*. It is you and I who would create a world where we feel safe to walk home to, to go to work, to be with our family to enjoy our vacation without any fear. It starts with a civilized dialogue in our own neighborhood and in our own City. It is our responsibility Peace and blessings Mike Ghouse

Who's the real Hindu?
Karan Thapar, Hindustan Times

Does the VHP have the right to speak for you or I? Do they reflect our views? Do we endorse their behavior? They call themselves the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, but who says they represent all of us? This Sunday morning, I want to draw a clear line of distinction between them and everyone else. My hunch is many of you will agree.

Let me start with the question of conversion — an issue that greatly exercises the VHP. I imagine there are hundreds of millions of Hindus who are peaceful, tolerant, devoted to their faith, but above all, happy to live alongside Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Jews. If any one of us were to change our faith how does it affect the next man or woman? And even if that happens with inducements, it can only prove that the forsaken faith had a tenuous and shallow hold. So why do the VHP and its unruly storm troopers, the Bajrang Dal, froth at the mouth if you, I or our neighbors convert? What is it to do with them?

Let me put it bluntly, even crudely. If I want to sell my soul — and trade in my present gods for a new lot — why shouldn't I? Even if the act diminishes me in your eyes, it's my right to do so. So if thousands or even millions of Dalits, who have been despised and ostracized for generations, choose to become Christian, Buddhist or Muslim, either to escape the discrimination of their Hindu faith or because some other has lured them with food and cash, it's their right.

Arguably you may believe you should ask them to reconsider, although I would call that interference, but you certainly have no duty or right to stop them. In fact, I doubt if you are morally correct in even seeking to place obstacles in their way. The so-called Freedom of Religion Acts, which aim to do just that, are, in fact, tantamount to obstruction of conversion laws and therefore, at the very least, questionable.

However, what's even worse is how the VHP responds to this matter. Periodically they resort to violence including outright murder. What happened to Graham Staines in Orissa was not unique. Last week it happened again. Apart from the utter and contemptible criminality of such behavior, is this how we Hindus wish to behave? Is this how we want our faith defended? Is this how we want to be seen? I have no doubt the answer is no. An unequivocal, unchanging and ever-lasting NO!

The only problem is it can't be heard. And it needs to be. I therefore believe the time has come for the silent majority of Hindus — both those who ardently practice their faith as well as those who were born into it but may not be overtly religious or devout — to speak out. We cannot accept the desecration of churches, the burning to death of innocent caretakers of orphanages, the storming of Christian and Muslim hamlets even if these acts are allegedly done in defense of our faith. Indeed, they do not defend but shame Hinduism. That's my central point.

I'm sorry but when I read that the VHP has ransacked and killed I'm not just embarrassed, I feel ashamed. Never of being Hindu but of what some Hindus do in our shared faith's name.

This is why its incumbent on Naveen Patnaik, Orissa's Chief Minister, to take tough, unremitting action against the VHP and its junior wing, the Bajrang Dal. This is a test not just of his governance, but of his character. And I know and accept this could affect his political survival. But when it's a struggle between your commitment to your principles and your political convenience is there room for choice? For ordinary politicians, possibly, but for the Naveen I know, very definitely not.

So let me end by saying: I'm waiting, Naveen. In fact, I want to say I'm not alone. There are hundreds of millions of Hindus, like you and me, waiting silently — but increasingly impatiently. Please act for all of us.

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