Aggressive evangelism in Partitioned India

Date: 16/12/2019

Christianizing Hindu Festivals : Breaking India

Aggressive evangelism, Denigration of Indian Culture : Breaking India
Christianizing Hindu Festivals : Breaking India

Erasing the Hindu Nature of Kural : One has to understand the unmistakable Hindu ethos of Thirukural in order to appreciate the damaging effect of this distortion on the subsequent generation of scholars. For example, the Hindu dharma recognizes pleasure or ‘kama’ as integral part of life. This is reflected in the 250 couplets of Thirukural’s third book that are devoted to Kama Purushartha, and stands diametrically opposed to the Protestant Puritanism professed by missionaries like Pope. Kamil Zvelebil explains that it was ‘the nineteenth Century Christian-oriented morality’ which made early missionary translators declares that the third book of Kural (the Kama Purushartha) as untranslatable ‘without exposing the translator to infamy’. Pope admitted that his own Christian prejudice had ‘kept him from reading third part of the Kural for some years’. Even after Pope eventually overcame his Christian narrow-mindedness and translated the third book of Kural, he apologized for it in the hope that “I shall be regarded as having done good service in doing so”.

Also there are many couplets in Thirukural that go directly against the cardinal concept of Jain ahimsa (non-harming). For instance, there is a Jain injunction against ploughing fields because it brings harm to the organisms in the soil. The Kural violates this. It also opposes the Jain doctrine of ahimsa by advising that the king should execute murderers just like weeds are removed from the crop field.

Additionally, Kural refers to the Puranas and other Hindu texts in many of its couplets, including frequent reference to Hindu Gods. Indra is mentioned in several couplets. There is an obvious reference to the measuring of the world by Vamana, an incarnation of Vishnu. Kural states that the goddess of wealth resides in the houses of men who show hospitality. It warns against the sloth as something disrespectful to Lakshmi. In tune with the Hindu shastras, it links the prosperity and spirituality of the land to the rule of a just king. It further states that the power of the King forms the mainstay of the scriptures of Brahmins and dharma.

Christian theologians used Kural as a weapon to mobilize the Dravidians against the Hinduism, by claiming that it was originally egalitarian and got later contaminated by Hinduism. But Kural’s statements on egalitarianism are mixed. It explicitly condones the social norms of Indian society prevalent at that time. It says that even if Brahmin forgets the Vedas he can learn them back, but that he must not lapse from the morality with which he is born. It also states that those whom a King employs as ambassadors should be from a noble family.

However Kural does not mention the fourth Purushartha of Hindu dharma, concerning moksha (liberation). Pope used this as evidence that Tamil Society was normally degraded and uncultured, and hence Thiruvalluvar had left out moksha because he ‘thought his people were not prepared for the higher teaching’. Today’s Dravidian scholarship has a different strategy, and interprets the absence of moksha to claim that Kural rejected the other-worldly metaphysics of the Vedic Aryans. But there is a simple non-convoluted explanation for this. Economist Ratan Lal Bose points out that many other Indian texts such as Arthashastra, discuss only three basic motivations (purusharthas) and that this is in tune with ‘the traditional Indian view that there should be a perfect balance of the trivarga (three pursuits) – i.e., dharma (ethics), artha (material resources) and kama (fulfilment of sexual and other desires)’. Justice Rama Jois points out that the popular Hindu law book Manusmriti also speaks of Trivarga. Thus, there is nothing unique about Thiruvalluvar mentioning only three purusharthas and leaving out the fourth; this has been a pan-Indian practice in works of ethics.

Christian Denigration of Indian Spiritual Dance : From the 17th century onwards, Christian missionaries made scathing attacks on the Indian classical dance-forms, seeing them as a heathen practice.

Kalai Kaveri College of Fine Arts, founded by a Catholic priest in 1977 as a cultural mission. received patronage from various sources and sent out priests and nuns to learn from the unsuspecting Hindu gurus. The college claims to offer ‘the world’s first, off-campus degree program in Bharathanatyam’ with another program in south Indian classical music (both vocal and instrumental). Its website’s home page shows Dr.Barboza’s ‘Christian mudras’ using the Christian ‘Father Deity’ as the Bharata Natyam mudra replacing thousands of years of Hindu mudras. Kalai Kaveri is backed and funded as a major Christian campaign. The Tamil Nadu Government has also actively funded and promoted the organization in 2003-2004.

Kalai Kaveri also has overseas branches. Its UK branch, with Lord Navnit Dholakia as its patron, administers performances and educational workshops in the UK by the dancers and movement instructors from Kalai Kaveri College in South India. Its website contains a passage from its twenty-fifth anniversary handbook, Resurgence, which reveals the time-tested Christian technique of first praising Indian spirituality and then mapping it to Christian equivalents, such as the subtle the use of the phrase ‘holy communion’, which has specific religious importance to Christians that might not be noticed by others.

Recurring Evangelical Provocations in Tamil Nadu : There have been numerous suicides by those subjected to aggressive evangelism, particularly among young girls in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. In one instance, the Vice Chancellor of a University was removed because he had allowed aggressive evangelism inside the university hostel, while in another case a girl left a suicide note accusing Christianity of ruining her life. A twelve year old girl who alleged religious harassment in a Christian School committees suicide after she was publicly insulted for being unable to read verses from the Bible.

From 2007 to 2008 several Hindu temples have been vandalized in districts of Tamil Nadu where Christians are in considerable numbers. In villages where Hindus have become the minority, temples were smashed and Hindus were threatened to leave and make the villages “Hindu-free”. In 2009, the traditional Tamil harvest festival Pongal has been stopped in a village in Kanyakumari district because of Christian activism against it.

Archaeological Evidence Concerning San Thome Church : The identification of the tomb discovered by the Portuguese as that of St.Thomas has been thoroughly repudiated even by those scholars who are sympathetic to the Thomas legend. For example, Jesuit archaeologist Fr H. Heras writes: “Some early Portuguese writers have kept the details of the original account, and these details are quite enough for disclosing the untruthfulness of the discovery. Another Christian scholar, T.K Joseph, states with regard to the burial place of Thomas: ‘I am fully convinced that it has never been in Mylapore. I have stated that many times’.

There is also evidence to show that the present San Thome was built on the remains of a Hindu temple, which was originally the Kapaleeswara Temple. For example, a PhD dissertation done years before the recent re-surfacing of these controversies, states:

“From the artifacts discovered by archaeologists at San Thome, one can infer that the temple should have existed elsewhere and most probably it existed at San Thome beach .. because the ramants of the old temple were discovered at San Thome beach. In 1923 when archelogists conducted excavations at San Thome cathedral they discovered inscriptions and statues. The inscriptions indicated a temple. Saint Arunagiri Nathar also mentions that Kapaleeswara temple existed by the side of the beach. Hence, in conclusion, one can state that the old Kapaleeswara temple was destroyed by Portuguese in the fifteenth century and was built in its present place by Nattu Nayiniappa Muthaliar and son in the sixteenth century.”

Archaeological studies by the Government of India confirm that the Portuguese built the church on the ruins of a Hindu temple. They have recovered an inscription of Rajendra Chola, the Imperial Chola who was devoted to the Vedic religion. A 1967 report of the Archaeological Survey of India on the recovery of the eleventh-century inscription of Rajendra Chola from San Thome in Madras states that the inscription of Rajendra Chola from San Thome Church in Madras states that the inscription mentions the Chola king as favoured by Lakshmi, ‘who grants him victory and prosperity’.

Nevertheless, these independent reports are downplayed and suppressed. For example, in the sixth-standard social science textbook taught across Tamil Nadu, it is blatantly stated as a matter of fact that St Thomas ‘stayed at St Thomas Mount and preached Christianity. He was murdered due to religious strife. His body was buried at Santome Church’. None of this is substantiated by empirical evidence.