The British rule in India crystallised two residues — Christianism and Macaulayism.
Certain strains of Macaulayism developed what is euphemistically described as a "revolutionary temper" in the later stages of the British rule and joined hands with Communism after the Bolshevik victory in Russia. The whole of Communism, which is also hostile to Hindu society and culture, is not Macaulayism. Yet, if Macaulayism had not prepared the ideological ground, Communism could not have made the strides it did in this country.
Christianism was the first to make itself felt forcefully at the onset of the British rule in India.
Christianism in India does not refer to the Christians in this country. They are the very own people who at a certain stage of history went over to a foreign faith in an atmosphere created and exploited by Christianism. But although they have renounced their ancestral faith, they have, by and large, not shown any marked hostility towards Hindu society and culture. Nor have they so far served as vehicles of Christianism except in certain areas of the Northeast, notably Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. Christianism in India is centered in the numerous Christian missions operating all over the country, particularly in the so-called tribal belts.
The Eight Fundamentals of Christianism in India
The eight fundamentals of Christianism in India may be summarised as follows:
|1.||That the Hindus have never had a Saviour whose historicity can be ascertained, with the possible exception of the Buddha;|
|2.||That Jesus Christ whose historicity cannot be questioned has superseded all earlier Saviours of Hinduism (if they were Saviours at all and not disciples of Lucifer) and rendered superfluous all subsequent Hindu saints and sages;|
|3.||That St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus himself, was specially chosen by the Church to win India for his Master's message:|
|4.||That St. Thomas could not complete his mission in India because he met an untimely martyrdom at the hands of some Hindu, most probably Brahmin, heathens;1|
|5.||That the converts made by SL Thomas, the first century Christians of the South, establish beyond doubt that Christianity is an ancient Indian religion and not a Western import as alleged by the Hindus;|
|6.||That it is the sacred task of the Christian Church to complete the mission of St. Thomas and see to it that India becomes a Christian country, once and for all;|
|7.||That if there is any thing good and wholesome in Hindu religion, it is not because Hindu saints and sages ever made any direct or conscious contact with Truth but because they merely stumbled upon some of it in the workings of Universal Nature which was preparing itself over a long time for the advent of Jesus Christ;|
|8.||That no Hindu, even if he follows the Ten Commandments in letter and spirit and lives by the Sermon on the Mount, can ever hope to escape eternal hell-fire unless he has been baptised in a Christian church and administered the Christian sacraments.|
These tenets have their source in the Christian religion which also, like Islam, is an extremely exclusive religion.2 Christianity too claims for itself a monopoly of truth and virtue, swears by the only true God, the only true Saviour or the only Son of the only true God, the only true Revelation, the only true way of worship, and so on. It too has to its discredit a long and unrelieved record of wanton destruction of ancient religions and cultures and a large-scale killing of heathens. The annals of Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa and America, particularly Central and South America, provide harrowing details of this destruction and bloodshed.
The Indians do not associate Christianity with misdeeds similar to those of Islam because the British invaders who finally succeeded in capturing power in India did not allow the Christian crusaders to use state power, directly and in an uninhibited manner. They had perhaps become wiser by a reading of Muslim history in India and did not allow their religion to interfere with the business of building a stable empire. A more tenable explanation of this British refusal to patronise Christianity beyond the point of no return is the Renaissance in Europe which had considerably discredited this creed in its own homeland by the time British arms were triumphant in India.
But we did have a taste of the intrinsic spirit of Christian aggression in our first encounter with the missionaries who swarmed towards our shores in the wake of Western victories from the 16th Century onwards. When the Portuguese seized Goa and adjoining territories the Catholic Church lost no time in setting up an Inquisition for the benefit of native converts who were likely to recant or relax in their faith. Francis Xavier, whom the Catholic Church hails as the Patron Saint of the East, expressed a deep satisfaction at the sight of six thousand dead Muslims whom the Portuguese had slaughtered. He also made forcible conversions, demolished Hindu temples, smashed Hindu idols, and inaugurated that anti-Brahmanism which has by now become the sine qua non of all progressive thought and politics in India.
The triumphal march of British arms in India in the second half of the 18th Century convinced the Christian missionaries that British victories were due not to a superiority in the art of warfare but to the superiority of the Christian creed by which the British generals and soldiers swore. They immediately started pouring venom on Hindu religion, culture and society. No lie was vile enough in the service of Christian "truth". No fraud was foul enough in the service of Christian "virtue".
An example will serve to illustrate the spiteful spirit of the Christian missionaries at that time. They spread a canard in India and abroad that many Hindus voluntarily rushed under the wheels of the great chariot during the annual rathayãtrã at Puri, and got themselves crushed to death in order to attain salvation. The great chariot, according to them, was always accompanied by droves of dancing girls who sang lascivious songs and made obscene gestures towards crowds on both sides of the broad street. The 'great' William Wilberforce, who ruled the circle of Christian crusaders in Britain and who adamantly advocated the Christianization of India by an unstinted use of state power, demanded immediately that the temple of Jagannath be demolished to stop this 'devil-dance' for good. The British Commissioner of Puri at that time saved the situation by writing a long letter to a liberal British M.P. in which he stated that he along with many other British civilians in the district had been a regular witness of the rathayãtrã for twenty years but had never witnessed a single victim under the wheels nor found anything immodest in the songs and symbolic gestures of the dancing girls. The English word 'Juggernaut', which according to the Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary means 'any relentless destroying force', is a living witness to the inventive imagination of the early Christian missionaries.
The Weakening of Malicious and Mendacious Campaign
This campaign of calumny against everything Hindu continued till late in the 19th Century. Swami Vivekanada was referring to this crude campaign when he cried with anguish in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago that …
"if we Hindus dig out all the dirt from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and throw it in your faces, it will be but a speck compared to what your missionaries have done to our religion and culture".
Had not the Hindus come out in defense of their religion and culture, this missionary mischief would have multiplied by leaps and bounds. The Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj were the earliest expressions of this Hindu spirit of resistance. A notable contribution was made by the Theosophical Society whose founder, Madame Blavatsky, exposed the spiritual and moral claims of Christianity and whose chief apostle in India, Mrs. Annie Besant, inspired no small pride in the Hindu heritage. The Ramakrishna Mission] also came to the rescue at a later stage. Mahatma Gandhi gave no quarters to Christian theology or to Jesus Christ as the only Son of God and Saviour of mankind. He had his own charming method of recommending Sermon on the Mount while showing compassion for the victims of the missionaries whom he described as "rice Christians".3
Perhaps the main reason for the weakening of this malicious and mendacious campaign was the collapse of Christianity in its own homeland, the Western countries. The West had taken a decisive turn towards the scientific spirit. Meanwhile, the message of Hindu spirituality had also spread to the centers of learning in the West. The exponents of Hindu religion and culture like Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Raman Maharshi, Rabindranath Tagore, Ananda Coomaraswami and Mahatma Gandhi were demonstrating by their words and deeds the profound promise which [[hinduism|Hindu Dharma]]] held for mankind. The missionaries had to change their methods.
Covert methods of Christianism
The core of Christianism in India, however, remains intact. They now know that the fortress of Hindu society cannot be seized by a frontal assault. They are, therefore, busy in the backyards and have hidden themselves behind the smoke-screens of several theologies. Some of these covert methods can be listed as follows:
- Training of more and more native missionaries in their far-flung, well-equipped and fabulously financed seminaries so that missionary work looks no more like an undertaking manned mostly by foreigners;
- Hinduising the outer accouterments of Christian priests, liturgy and sacraments in order to convince the Hindus that Christianity is not an imported creed, and that Christianism is not out to corrode Hindu culture;
- Directing their powerful press and publishing houses not to attack Hindu religion and culture openly but to develop a scholarly and comparative critique of Hindu religion, culture and society, always to the ultimate disadvantage of the latter;
- To establish and extend educational institutions which at least immunize the English educated Hindu children and youth against whatever Hindu ways still survive in their homes, wherever they do not succeed in attracting them towards Christianity;
- To build and expand hospitals and undertake other social work in order to attract an all-round respect for the Christian spirit of social service, and neutralize as narrow bigotry any questioning of their missionary motives;
- To open orphanages and homes for the handicapped where proselytization can proceed safely and unnoticed;
- To concentrate on Hindu "tribals" who are removed from the main centers of Hindu population, so that there is no untoward publicity;
- To take out promising candidates for conversion on prolonged tours of Western countries in order to impress upon them the wonders worked by Christian culture and civilization;
- To encourage well-to-do and willing Christians in the West to adopt boys and girls from poor Indian families, send them to missionary schools and colleges, and provide them with monetary assistance till they are converted;
- To finance and promote political campaigns for separate states, inside or outside the Union of India, in those areas where the Christian population has attained majority or dominance.
There are plenty of methods which the missionaries employ to harangue and/or hoodwink the unsuspecting Hindus. Some of these methods are pretty crude, especially those employed by the American missionaries who aim a loud and simplistic promise, "you also can be saved" or a sweet scolding, "don't you want to save yourself?" through big advertisements in daily newspapers, regular radio broadcasts and door to door pedlars of salvation. The other methods are sophisticated and disguised as "Indian theology."4
But what looms large at the back of all these methods is the mammoth finance which flows in freely from the coffers of the Christian churches and communities in Europe and America. An idea of the magnitude of this finance can be got from a recent incident which was widely reported in the daily press. An imaginative and enterprising but poor South Indian palmed off on a Christian missionary a lot of faked literary and archaeological evidence about the adventures of St. Thomas in South India against a cash payment of fifteen lakh rupees-a paltry sum in the total budget of the mission concerned. And there are hundreds of such missions in India.
The Statesman dated 17 August 1981 has published an interesting news item from Aachen in West Germany: "The Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Mother Teresa, has asked her supporters to suspend charity donations, reports UNI-DPA. The German Section of the International Association of Friends of Mother Teresa which donated six million marks in 1980 is to be disbanded at the end of this year in response to the plea. Mother Teresa who won the prize in 1979 after years of work aiding the poorest of the poor called for a temporary halt to contributions "until we have used up what we have". "I will then ask you again", the founder of the Missionaries of Charity said in a circular. Excessive support of a single charity leading to the needs of thousands of others being forgotten was probably behind the request." (emphases added).
Six million West German marks amount to approximately two and a half crores of rupees. The amounts contributed by other sections of the International Association of Friends of Mothers Teresa are most likely to total up to many times this sum. Mother Teresa is not in a position to use all the money that has already been given to her. So the torrent has been halted temporarily. It will start pouring again as soon as she gives the signal. And hers is only one of the "thousands of other charities". One can well imagine the staggering finance at the disposal of Christianism in India.
The free flow of this Western wealth enables the missionaries to live in and have at their disposal palatial mansions in which their missions and seminaries are housed. Their vow of poverty never comes in the way of their having modern sanitation facilities, kitchens, communications and transport. They can travel not only over the length and breadth of this country but to the ends of the earth to attend conferences, congregations, seminars and symposia. Everywhere they go they can stay in similar sumptuous style. It is but human if the superiority of their style of living gets confused with the superiority of the Christian creed.
Recently some missionaries, particularly in the Catholic missions, have started talking a new language-the language of radicalism and revolution. It is not unoften that this language comes most easily to those who do not have to share the woes and wants of people with whom they commiserate. They make the best of both the worlds. Our Communist leaders are an excellent example of such synthetic radicalism.
The West has lost its fascination for the faith. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find men and women in the West who would take the holy orders and become wedded to vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. But the West does not mind parting with plenty of cash which its prosperity can spare with ease. Christianity is, therefore, making a bold bid to establish a safer haven in the East while the going is good.
India provides a particularly soft target. The Christian missions are welcome to open their purse strings in the Islamic and Communist countries of Asia. But the missions there are barred from winning new converts. Hindu India, drowned in poverty and suffering from cultural self-forgetfulness, is the only country in Asia which provides the quid pro quo.5
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