Conversions

Hindus do not believe in religious conversions. Hindus had never drawn up any elaborate plans to convert the whole world. Hindus respect all paths to God. That does not mean all paths are the same or equal as frequently misinterpreted even by some Hindu Scholars and Leaders. Hindus accept the validity of each path. Hence, Hindus are reluctant to convert anyone. Hindus believe in sharing with and learning from all religious traditions in the world. The oldest known scripture of humanity, the Rig Veda, states “let noble thoughts come from all corners of the world”. However, when proselytizing religions like Islam and Christianity (with the exception of the Orthodox Christian Church) engage in conversions of poor and uneducated Hindus by offering them material benefits, spreading hatred for the Hindu culture and its rich history, and sometimes providing arms and ammunitions like in the Northeast of India, Hindus consider it a serious provocation which leads to religious violence.

In the 20th century, there has been organized resistance to these aggressive Christian Missionary activities. Hindus no longer consider it as a trivial matter. The fate of many nations in Asia is a glaring example in front of them. South Korea, Philippines and East Timor are all Christian countries today. For Hindus, it is a question of pure survival. If India loses its Hindu majority status, then it inevitably leads to the extinction of the world’s oldest civilization and the birthplace of religion itself. That is a loss that will be incomparable in history and Hindus worldwide will resist any attempt to convert India to a Christian or Islamic State.

It would be immature on the part of Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders to even doubt the resolve of Hindus on the subject of conversions, especially those involving fraud, force and exploitation. Mahatma Gandhi, a global symbol of peace, harmony and non-violence was categorical in his opposition to religious conversions. He said “If I had the power to legislate, I would ban all religious conversions”. This does not mean that Hindus are opposed to the right of other faiths to propagate their beliefs.

Hindus consider the freedom to choose one’s path is sacred and is the birthright of all human beings. All Hindus are free to choose another religion if it is more appealing than what they practice today. However, we must draw a clear distinction between propagation of religion and prosylitization. Prosylitization is an act of converting someone from one religion to another by offering inducements. This phenomenon of prosylitization is worldwide and people around the world are rejecting it. Of special concern to Hindus (and even Catholics) are the Evangelists.

Evangelists constitute the fastest growing segment of Christianity Worldwide. Their leadership is manned by former CEO’s of major companies, retired generals and journalists. In addition, they enjoy the political patronage provided by the high and the mighty in the establishment. They display no inhibition in converting even the converted, namely Catholics and other Christian Denominations such as Orthodox and Protestant Christians. So vicious is their campaign worldwide that even Pope John Paul called them “a pack of wolves”. The Evangelists are the modern version of the Medieval Christian Crusaders who have taken it upon themselves to “save all the souls by any means in the shortest period of time”.

The prevalence of the term “Rice Bowl Christians” illustrates the acknowledgment of this dark side of Christianity. It is time for the major faiths of the world to come to an international understanding on religious conversions. Such a positive step may be long overdue, as many Hindus and Buddhists see it.