FaithWorld

Christians cower from Hindu backlash in Orissa

September 3, 2008

Christian woman outside her destroyed house in an Orissa village, 2 Sept 2008/Parth Sanyal TIKABALI, India (Reuters)On a starry night last week, as Lal Mohan Digal prepared to go to bed, a mob of raging, machete-wielding Hindu zealots appeared above the hills of his mud house and swarmed over a bucolic hamlet in Orissa. By dawn, Christian homes in the village were smoking heaps of burnt mud and concrete shells. Churches were razed, their wooden doors and windows stripped off.

Krittivas Mukherjee, a correspondent in our New Delhi bureau, recently visited the eastern Indian state of Orissa for a first-hand view of the continuing Hindu nationalist violence against minority Christians there. His eyewitness feature “Christians cower from Hindu backlash in Orissa” paints a vivid picture of the drama unfolding in the ransacked Christian hamlets and makeshift relief centres packed with frightened refugees.

Orissa has a history of religious violence (see our factbox). The Reuters India website archive shows 37 stories since last Christmas from datelines including Bhubaneswar (Orissa state capital), New Delhi, Rome and Vatican City. The United Nations freedom of religion investigator warned back in March about more violence to come. Mukherjee’s harrowing story comes from a hamlet so small it doesn’t show on web maps.

Charred corpse in building sacked in an Orissa village, 28 August 2008/Santanu BiswalThe photo to the right went out with the following note to editors:

ATTENTION EDITOR – VISUALS COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH AND INJURY The charred body of a woman lies in rubble at an orphanage after it was attacked by a mob during a statewide strike protesting the killing of a Hindu leader, in Khuntapali village in the eastern Indian state of Orissa August 25, 2008. Police were ordered to shoot rioters on sight in Orissa on Wednesday to tame rising violence between Hindus and Christians that has killed 11 people so far and left the Pope “profoundly saddened”. Three bodies were found overnight in rural Kandhamal district, where Hindu mobs have damaged more than a dozen churches and attacked Christian homes and an orphanage this week. Picture taken August 25, 2008. REUTERS/Santanu Biswal

The horror of a story like this can be hard to get across, especially without on-the-spot reports like Mukherjee’s. Do you think this violence is being adequately reported in the world media?

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Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah:

The problem which needs to be addressed, in India by Indians, is that when abrahamic faiths (AF) come in direct contact with dharmic ones (DF), there is bound to be a clash. The exclusiveness of the AF (“mine is the only correct path”) is so detrimental to the sustainable existence of mankind that, as a thinking individual, I am at once both sad and alerted that the onslaught of the AF must be stopped, for survival is the issue in question.

One may state that attraction to the AF is always due to the lure of the lucre. (Western society post imperialism and Arab society in the Oil economy)
However, I believe that this fight can be fought at the intellectual plane and it is there that it must be defeated, if India is to remain.

And, I maintain that any talk of the AF offering an egalitarian society is utter hogwash. Human beings will always look out for their own…some people call it nepotism, others call it survial instinct. I mean to say, at the fundamental level, who would support his neighbour’s child instead of his own? And, rightly so.

If we take this a few layers up the social fabric, then you can easily see how we are all, each one of us, interested in upholding the best interests of our own kind…it has to do with our penchant for immortality – the closest thing we have to immortality is the ability to pass on our own genes, and ensure our genes have the best chance for survival. This translates into the unquestioned love and devotion one showers on one’s child. This also translates into the preference (or partiality) towards one’s race. Other societies may have racism or nationalism or even feminism. India has been a cauldron of mixing races over millenia, this explains the reason for the caste system. However, by institutionalizing it within the faith, hinduism is perhaps the only non-hypocritical way of life that I know of, barring those that are even more ancient (but none of these is counted among the AF). I admit, that Islam comes across as non-hypocritical too, but only so far as the human male is concerned…but that is a topic for a different forum.

So, I repeat, that watching out for one’s own is merely a survival instinct coupled with the desire for immortality. I state that the caste system is merely a non-hyprocritical admission of the above. All the AF talk of egalitarianism is a lie…well packaged perhaps, but just that, a lie. In addition to being a lie, it is also suicidal!

Which brings me to this: The only ‘truth’ that prevails is that uttered by the majority. In the olden days, the more numerous would win in a battle. Today, atleast in democratic societies, one fights via the ballot. Still, it is the higher numbers that count. As sister Maria said in the famous song, Strength Lies in Numbers. So, as long as the people of the dharmic faith exceed those of the AF (in India), civil society (in India) will prevail. If however, the AF is perceived to exploit the inclusive tendencies of the DF and use it against the people of the dharmic faith, (as is happening now) then 2 choices emerge: Either we resort to violence (victory of superior numbers), or have an intellectual debate. I recall that Mr. AB Vajpayee offered such a debate during one of the conversion related issues back when he was the PM of India. The offer was declined by the AF. Yes, it is sad that many Indians are poor (very poor) and so, are easy prey to the charity tactics of the Vatican or the Mideast. Sad, because it is not a level playing field, since neither is the west nor is the mideast an experiement in humanity as has been Indian society for millenia. So, it will be tough to prevail over this onslaught, but prevail we must. For the very survival of human society is at stake…India remains for the past 3000 years or so, the sole laboratory which seeks to answer the following question…”can two individuals of different backgrounds co-exist, simply because”?

For, with all the admissions that uphold the looking after one’s own including via the caste system, it is only the Dharmic Faith which declares ‘truth is one, but has many names’. Well, so what, you ask, many holy books declare lots of nice stuff, hence what’s so speacial about the DF. The fact is pantheism is the practical manifestation of this pluralistic inclusive creed. It should not be sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.

Posted by Abhiram | Report as abusive
 

The conversion phenomenon needs to be seen in a larger context.Why there should be conversion of religious faith if the missionaries are selfless??.I have seen a fellow Indian commenting in Times of India that the Hinduism is a dying religion and it is a Myth.These kind of crooked mentality certain section of our society maintain and then they preach peace and co-existance!!!.IT IS VERY MUCH EVIDENT THE WHOLE PURPOSE BEHIND THIS CONVERSION PHENOMENA IS TO GAIN MORE AND MORE POLITICAL CULT AND THEREBY INCREASE THE BARGAINING POWER IN THE POLITICS IN INDIA.ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE. I would also like to say, the person who opined about Hinduism as a Myth should disown his forefathers if they are Indians!.

PEOPLE INCLUDING ME ARE FULLY AWARE OF THE FACTS AND FIGURES OF THIS RELIGIOUS GAME PLAN HAPPENING IN MY COUNTRY AND WHAT IS THE REASON BEHIND IT.INDIA BECAME A COUNTRY RUN BY SELFISH,CROOKED PSEUDO SECULARISTS…AND I AM VERY MUCH SURE THEY WILL NOT SUCCEED.IF THERE IS A POINT WHEN THEY SUCCEED, THERE WILL BE AN UPRISING IN THIS COUNTRY.
I ALSO CALL UP ON THE NATIONALISTS TO STRIVE FOR A BETTER FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY…HAVE A UNIFIED APPROACH TO UPLIFT THE POORER SECTION OF OUR CITIZENS SO THAT THEY CAN’T BE EXPLOITED BY THE FORIEGNERS AND PSEUDO SECUALRISTS IN OUR COUNTRY.IMPLEMENT THE UNIFORM CIVIL CODE, SHED THE BULLSHIT CASTE AND CREED, MAKE THE POOR LITERATE, DEMOLISH BLOODY QUOTA SYSTEM, ROOT OUT THE CORRUPTION SO THAT OUR SYSTEM TREAT EVERYONE EQUALLY, ALL RELIGION.
IF THE MISSIONERIES LOVE PEACE , HARMONY & CO-EXISTANCE THEY SHOULD NOT TRY TO CHANGE THE BALANCE IN EXISTING NATURAL RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS.OTHERWISE THEY WILL FACE BACKLASH.TRADITIONALY INDIA WELCOMED ALL RELIGIONS AND TODAY WE AS A NATION PAYS THE PRICE FOR IT.
IN INDIA SECULARISM MEAN – ANYBODY CAN COME IN AND RAPE OUR NATION….IT STARTED WITH MUGHALS, ARABS, PERSIANS, PORTUGESE, FRENCH, BRITISH…THEN THE LATEST BY CHINESE (1962 & ANYTIME SOON AGAIN!)…. AND THE LIST CONTINUES TO GROW!!!!….
THANKS TO PSEUDO-SECULARISTS IN INDIA.
THANKS TO SUCCEFULL VOTE BANK POLITICS OF GANDHI DYNASTY, TODAY INDIA IS MORE DIVIDED THAN ANYTIME BEFORE.

Posted by Renjith Nair | Report as abusive
 

If the rising hatred kindled by pro-hindu outfits against christians in orissa is not contained by timely intervention of the leaders – BJP, Congress and other political parties , sooner some Maoists like organisation might take advantage of this growing separatism and align it towaards their own cause.
India will be divided in the name of religion and each religion will have their ways of “jehad”.

So far christians beleived in teachings of Jesus like “Love, follow peace with all men , Fraternity, Dont strike back attitude”, which at best they had maintained amidst these provocation and tolerant.

 

Dear Anil Chawla,
I read you mail and I am appalled of your justifying the brutality of the people of Orissa. I am a Hindu and an outcast. Basically my ancestors migrated from Greece to Kerala about 4000 years ago and refused to submit to the wishes of the existing castes of the area and were thus considered outcast. Somehow we managed to be leaders of our region and fought off being subdued by the higher castes. But being Greek with a similar religion we easily adopted Hinduism. The bottom line is I can understand the feelings of the outcastes of Orissa. After these attacks, the Christian Dalits of Orissa will be more sure that they live in an oppressive society and will never go back to Hinduism. The problems of Orissa came about because of simple economics. The rich land-lords had Dalits to work for them when their labour force began to question them; it became a serious enough problem for them to stir up violence. What is wrong otherwise for Dalits converting to Christians? They are not given a place in traditional Hindu society; let them liberate themselves in whatever means they can find. If the Dalits are not taught about the bottomless well of the most ancient knowledge available in Hinduism, it is the fault of the Hindus. Hindu preachers probably decided previously that it was beyond them to propagate this knowledge to the Dalits. At least from now on they should do so. Or will the land-lords also kill potential Hindu preachers for liberating the minds of the Dalits.

The castes within Hinduism were supposed to be equal. There was supposed to be only four castes which are equivalent to the four parts of the body (society). The Brahmins represent the head, the Kshathriyas represent the shoulders, the stomach represents the Vaishas and the legs represent the Sudras. Can a person live properly without legs, stomach, shoulders or head? Each caste is as important as the rest for the body to perform. Castes should respect each other just as a person respects the work done by the different parts of the body. The system has stood the test of time, because the various types of people are needed in a country. A friend of mine did an in-depth study of Chinese history and found that the culture always followed a sequence, a wild militant king will take over, then over time the people will be rich, then religion (mainly Buddhism) will come in and a major portion of the people will be pacifist sitting down to meditate, then comes time for another outside king to conquer China and start a new dynasty. Thus Chinese culture swung from militancy, wealth, religious pacifism and then it is time for another conquest from outside. With a caste system, there will be different people performing different work in the country at all times and this can bring security to the country.

Over time the understanding of the caste system in India weakened and we were consequently conquered. Yes, many people blame the foreigners, but we ourselves are to be blamed for our misunderstanding of the caste system over time. You mentioned about killings of the Europeans but you failed to talk about the abject slavery and killings of the lower castes or outcastes in India. As Indians we are as guilty of atrocities as the Europeans, but to our own low castes. No human like to be subdued; it is not natural for a human to submit to subjugation. A Sudra can listen to instructions more easily if they feel they are doing their duties to God, not if they feel they are being forced to work. The Brahmins were powerful in the ancient times because their mantras could give the people whatever they wanted, good crops, homes etc. When the Brahmins started forgetting some mantras, the Kshathriyas took over and ruled for a very long time. Nowadays it is the business people who are the most respected and in future when computers takes over, the instruction following Sudras will be the leaders of society.

You mentioned 250 million Red Indians, I did a Google search but cannot find this data and I don’t believe that is true. Native Americans cannot grow to that number with the simple hunting-gathering and little farming that they did – it is impossible. The current population of USA is 300 million. There are below three million Native Americans today. America fought the Civil War to abolish slavery of the African Americans. In fact American deaths resulting from the Civil war stand at 700,000 compared to 200,000 for World War II. Basically America lost 2.3 % of it’s population to the Civil War compared to 0.23% in WWII, which seems like a just emancipation for all the wrongs committed during the heights of slavery.

Not that I support what the Europeans did but we cannot deny the fact that India is a manifestation of the British. India did not exist till the British made it. If not for the British, India would be just like the Middle East, a whole region of people with the same culture living in confronting countries. Though the British took away a lot, they did bring about some virtues, which we must be thankful for. They abolished suttee (don’t know where that culture came from, it is not in our scriptures) and gave us our system of law. No more are the super rich sultans or other kings taking 90% of the wealth and leaving the rest to eek out a living with 10%. They gave us education in an unbiased manner to all castes. And of course we have to be thankful for the railroads they built.

Posted by Prashobh Karunakaran | Report as abusive
 

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