Speaking Out Against Prejudice
Toward Hinduism and India
by Stephen Knapp
Although I am primarily engaged in writing books, there are times when I notice that prejudice and false ideas about Hinduism and India become too apparent in various publications to disregard. In such cases, we will write in and speak out to present more accurate views regarding the true nature of Vedic culture.
Here is an example of our response to a Christian minister who wrote a letter to the "India Tribune" about his false notion regarding the need for the freedom of Hindus to convert to Christianity to bring them out of their plight of poverty and oppression under "Hindu" leaders. His prejudice and bias was so obvious that we felt compelled to write in a more accurate and truthful view of the situation. This was also appreciated by others who wrote in their approval of our letter, and contributed additional valid points with which we agree, some of which we have included following our letter. We wrote it under our publicist's name of Jim Martin. The letter was published in the September 2, 2000 edition of the paper, and was printed and titled as follows:
Invaders Aimed to Dismantle Indian Culture
by Jim Martin
I am writing in response to the letter published in the August 5 edition of India Tribune, by Rev. Dr. George E. David, titled "Legitimate Conversions Must Be Supported." He is a Christian minister and I am also one who was born and raised a Christian. However, I have some serious differences of opinion in response to what he said in his letter.
First of all, I also agree that everyone should have the right to decide for themselves what faith is most appropriate for them. No one has to really monitor that, as he seemed to suggest. It is a freedom in any democratic country. But he goes on to criticize Hinduism as being to blame for the poor and illiterate people in India. And that the Hindu leaders have kept people under control through such illiteracy and poverty. He suggests that is the reason why there is a need for so many Christians, due to their love of Jesus Christ, to come to the rescue and save India and help the needy.
There are many parts of the world who need humanitarian work, and to do that is fine. However, as a Christian myself, I know and have heard time and time again this ploy as a standard tactic to justify why Christians need to go to India and "Deliver the good news about Jesus" while bringing different kinds of humanitarian help. I have heard this from local churches as well as numerous television evangelical preachers as well, such as Jerry Falwell and others, and then watch them count their success in how many converts they have made. So this is nothing new. And after a while you begin to see through it.
To me this seems completely unfair to make such an assumption that illiteracy and poverty are caused by Hinduism, as if Rev. David knows all about the history of India and why it has lost so much of its glory and power, and the immense damage the "Christian British" did to India, and its attempt to dismantle whatever there was of Hinduism and its Vedic literature. Also, how they purposely controlled food production and distribution of commodities in order to turn people to Christianity. How they purposely tried to control and change the Vedic texts to reduce the high standards of living, morality, and its understanding of God so that people would more easily be converted to Christianity, along with so many other things they did. He has little right to blame the social conditions of India on Hinduism.
Rev. David goes on to say how he sees anger and hatred in a prior letter of Dr. Gangadhar Maddiwar, as if Dr. Maddiwar would prefer to keep Hindu people of India being poor and illiterate, rather than knowing other faiths. Here is another ploy to get Indians to stop being Hindus. Rev. David seems not to understand in the slightest degree that simply knowing other faiths is hardly anything that will improve the education of Indian citizens. The poor and illiterate is a social condition that was inflicted upon India and caused by outside invaders, from which India is still slowly recovering. It was never caused by Hinduism. History shows that.
Even though I am born and raised a Christian, I believe in finding the truth. And anyone can investigate the true history of India and look back to see how India has been controlled and dominated by invaders of all kinds for the past 1000 years and more, invaders from the Middle East, the British, and even their missionaries. They have all come to dismantle what is India and its culture and force a new religion and government on its people, whether through obvious or covert attempts. During his latest visit to India the Pope stated: "Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent of Asia." Do you think that does not mean to make Indians Christians??
So there is no doubt that the Christian motive is not necessarily to help all people of the third world countries in a selfless manner simply to express their love of Christ, but also to provide the means by which everyone can be swayed to adopt the same religion. Once you begin to truly investigate history, anyone can understand that India has the oldest religion and culture in the world, and it can work perfectly well if it is given a chance. A chance outside the dictates of its past invaders, or present sectarian government officials who work for the cause of minorities at the expense of the majority Hindus. Do not think that a born and raised Christian and American such as myself cannot see this. In fact, anyone can.
For example, there have been two newly released books that are packed with important and revealing information about India's history from thousands of years ago up to the present. One book is "Proof of Vedic Culture's Global Existence" by Stephen Knapp (available through The World Relief Network, P. O. Box 15082, Detroit, Michigan, 48215), and the other is "The True History and the Religion of India" by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati (available through the International Society for Divine Love, Barsana Dham, 400 Barsana Road, Austin,Texas, 78737).
These books show how India once had a glorious past and was a global influence, in fact the parent of humanity and the heritage of all religions. It was advanced in many medical, mathematical and scientific inventions that the world uses today without recognition of their origins. These books also show the damage that invaders, including the Christian British and German nationalists, did to the true culture of India and its people in general, and how India has been making an uphill battle since then to regain stability. Furthermore, these books show that many practices of the ancient Vedic culture, which is far older than either Judaism or Christianity, were adopted by each of these newer religions. Even the story of Jesus has many adaptations and similarities to the older story of Lord Krishna.
It would be to the advantage of any Indian to be aware of the abundant information that these two books contain to keep in mind the antiquity and authenticity of their true past and heritage. There has been many attempts to stifle and suppress the knowledge in the above mentioned books for years. After learning this information myself, I am embarrassed whenever I see these same age old tactics as found in Rev. David's letter, to belittle India and its religion by unjustly using social issues to criticize religions, and thereby try to establish the superiority of their own religion, such as Christianity, which has proved to be one of the most violent and dominating religions in history. And I know this is something that most Christians don't like to discuss. However, even the Pope has acknowledged and apologized for the cruel past of Christianity, so this cannot be denied. Therefore, Indians have every right to be proud of their culture, and every right to be a little tired of those who make continued efforts to defraud or tear it down in any way, religious or otherwise. This has gone on long enough. So, as Rev. David says at the end of his letter, let us work together to give peace a chance, but I say let everyone follow the religion of their choice without the continual attempt to sway them this way or that.
In response to our letter were others, such as the following that appeared in the October 14, 2000 issue, that not only praised us for speaking out, but also made creditable points to which we agree, and share with you here. This makes it evident that it is better not to be shy about speaking the truth, for when it is done appropriately, it may also become a gathering point and provide the impetus for others to come forward to do the same.
Tolerant Hindus Respect all Religions
by S. Arora
Dublin, OH: I read with great interest Jim Martin's opinion -- "Invaders aimed to Dismantle Indian Culture"-- published in India Tribune dated September 2, in response to Dr. George E. David's view - "Legitimate conversions must be supported" - appeared in India Tribune dated August 5.
I was greatly impressed by Jim Martin who rightly said that invader's aim was to dismantle the Indian culture. I think, it is praiseworthy and highly creditable that one such as Jim Martin, who is born and raised as a Christian, would so boldly proclaim what he sees as the truth. He has done his homework well, for he definitely has a fair grasp of Indian culture and the reasons that gradually led to its decline over the centuries.
Anyone who has read about Hinduism knows how at one time India was respected and looked up to for guidance in matters of religion and spirituality. Even Jesus Christ is said to have gone to India for several years during his early life to get guidance and spiritual instruction from the sages and yogis of north India. (Reference: "Jesus Lived in India" by Holger Kerston).
Swamy Vivekananda represented Hinduism as a delegate in September 1893 to the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago, where delegates from all nations gathered. There, he emphasized the harmony of all religions, and got a standing ovation, significant of their approval. For two minutes, he attempted to speak, but the wild enthusiasm of the audience prevented him. When silence was finally restored, he introduced Hinduism as "the mother of religions, a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance," and he quoted two passages from the Hindu scriptures in support. "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they may appear, crooked or straight, all lead there."
The second quotation, "All men are struggling through paths, which in the end, lead to Me," is indicative of the truth which his guru, Sri Ramakrishna, had taught him, "as many paths, so many religions." Hence, in a democracy, each one should have the freedom to follow his conscience, and opt for and follow the religion of his choice, without being pressured to conversion to other religions.
Referring to Swami Vivekananda's speech, the president, Merwin-Mariesnell, of the assembly said, "One of the chief advantages has been in the great lesson which it has taught the Christian world, especially to the people of the US, namely that there are other religions more venerable than Christianity, which surpass it in philosophical depth, in spiritual intensity. . ."
In light of this, it is hard to understand why Christian missionaries go to India to convert the poverty-stricken Hindus to Christianity, under the guise of humanitarian reasons. As Jim Martin has pointed out, the Indians have the invaders (wave after wave of them) to thank for the present plight of India and the Indians today. In the last 1,000 years, at least, India has not invaded any country, but it has patiently suffered the onslaught of aggression from foreigners who have scrupulously taken advantage of the trusting Hindus.
Hinduism accommodates all religions, so Hindus not only tolerate, but respect all religions as true, without trying to convert followers of other religions to Hinduism. Should not followers of other religions do the same, and live in a spirit of peace, goodwill and co-existence?
Another letter in support of our views appeared in the October 7, 2000 edition, and was published as follows:
God is Too Big for any one Religion
by A. Ramachandran
Shrewsbury, MA: I wish to compliment Jim Martin for his lively opinion--"Invaders Aimed to Dismantle Indian Culture"--published in India Tribune dated September 2. It was his response to Rev. David's views--"Legitimate Conversions must be Supported"--published in India Tribune dated August 5.
First, I also agree that conversion is a moral right. India has a long tradition of conversion from one faith to another. When Lord Buddha preached his eight-fold path to Nirvana, Hindus in large numbers converted to Buddhism. When in the 8th century Adi Shankar expounded his philosophy of Adwaita, many Buddhists converted to Hinduism. In the 16th century, Guru Nanak offered his simpler way to God and many Hindus chose to become Sikhs. In 50 A.D., when St. Thomas brought Christianity to Kerala, many Hindus converted to this faith.
All these conversions were motivated by the hearts and intellects of the individuals and no temptation or coercion was involved. Unfortunately, St. Thomas was martyred in Madras because of his insistence that Hindu gods were false and their devotees were bound to go to hell. (We hear these words are repeated even today--please see the Southern Baptist's Prayer Book.)
Hindu India in the first millennium was a very prosperous country, rich in culture, sciences and wealth. Thanks to their religion, they were a gentle and mild people. (Read the impressions of the two Chinese pilgrims to India.) However, India's fame attracted booty-seekers from the West who came to plunder, pillage, massacre, subjugate, rule and eventually pauperize economically.
The Christian missionaries followed in the wake of this conquest and proselytized under the protection of the Raj. They used Western funds, material goods, and medicines to entice poor people to convert. They also used the threat of hell to convince the gullible and berated the Hindu religion.
This manner of spreading Christianity was also employed in South America by the Spanish conquerors and in North America by the European settlers, when the natives were vanquished by saber, spear, gunfire and then by the Christian cross-war, planted on their soil to save the "poor heathens."
India lost everything to the Western conquerors except its soul, and hence Gandhi was born, the freedom movement evolved, and India was able to free itself from centuries of debilitating foreign rule.
When the Indians gave themselves a Constitution, they incorporated the ancient Hindu belief of "Sarva Dharma Sambhava"--all religions are equal--contrast to the recent Vatican statement that orthodox Catholics and other denominations are imperfect. A bumper sticker says it all--"God is too big for any one religion."
One final letter that we will include that was inspired by our original letter, and which holds some strong points with which we also concur, was published in the January 27, 2001 edition of India Tribune as follows:
India subjugated by invaders - Hindus are secular-minded
by Bhikhu Patel
Marshall, TX: I am writing this belatedly in appreciation of Jim Martin's opinion--"Invaders armed to dismantle Indian culture"--published in India Tribune dated September 2, 2000.
Jim Martin needs to be congratulated for his efforts to seek out the truth about India's past, and then being a Christian, had the courage to express it in a newspaper.
Hindu-bashing has been a fashion in the Christian and the Islamic worlds. Hindus and their organizations have been labeled as fundamentalists. They are being held responsible for all the aches and pains the two creeds are having with their policy to proselytize the Indian subcontinent.
A Hindu cannot be a fundamentalist because of his universally accepted belief in the "Sarva Dharma Sambhava." Dan, Daya and Dharma are the three ingredients of the behavior in daily life. That does not mean that every Hindu would qualify for a sainthood. He carries all the traits of the human weaknesses. However, his overall performance towards his brethren carries high marks. India was ruled by foreigners for nearly 1000 years. The British came last, seeking trade, but ended up acquiring the whole of India.
The Indians were dazzled and outwitted by the cunningness of the invaders. The Hindus knew very little of the atrocities and terrorism of the crusades of Jehads. Still less, they knew about the spread of the two religions in the "Old World." The Indian elite adopted the English way of dressing and mannerism. Persian and English replaced Sanskrit. The Christian missionaries with the help of the British proceeded to Christianize India. The method adopted was unique.
India was unique. Islam, which was successful in converting the whole population in other countries, was only partially successful. Christianity, which successfully converted the continents and destroyed cultures of the "New World," had a very weak foothold.
This unique method was developed by Muller, Cunningham and Jones. The fictitious theory of invading Aryans was invented. The scriptures were doctored derogatively to demoralize Hindus. The records in the Archeological Department were manipulated. Many rare copies of scriptures were destroyed. The Hindu building structures became Moghul. The art turned Persian. The etiquette became English. The architect of the Taj Mahal was an Italian, maybe a Spaniard, not sure. Thus, the roots of India-bashing or Hindu-bashing were laid centuries ago and are very deep. The Indian history was rewritten by the British and Islamic rulers. It was like Hitler that was given the task of writing British history.
Hindus have been the temple builders, not the temple destroyers. India welcomed people of other cultures who were being persecuted in their own land, and lived amicably with them. The ruins that one may find all over the world were not the handiwork of the Hindus. The cultural and civilizational destruction of the Aztecs, only 500 years ago, was criminal, was not carried out by the Hindus, nor had any hand in the management of slavery. This is by no means a full list of big crimes. The worst was to come.
The Jewish people continued to suffer at the hands of their brothers, the people of the Books. It reached the peak during the second world war, when trains loaded with human cargo were sent into gas chambers. The Jewish race was nearly exterminated in Europe. The Jewish people in India were quite happy living among the Hindus.
When around 392 AD, Christianity became the favored and predominant religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Theodosius proclaimed it the sole legal religion and ordered all Roman subjects except Jews to become Christians. To be a Christian was henceforth a matter of law, not of religious conviction.
The burning of the main scientific medical library in Cordoba, Spain, was carried out on the pretext of "horrible calamity" to Islam. The famous library of Alexandria, which was in existence for nearly 1,000 years containing 700,000 manuscripts, was destroyed at the instance of caliph Omar. Prior to that, the same library suffered destruction at the hands of the Roman emperors in the years 272 AD and 391 AD. The actions were criminal. Hindus have always been the promoters of knowledge.
Hindus have never entertained crusades or Jehads against any religion, nor sent missions to other countries on a religious conversion drive. The world population comprises 2.5 billion Christians and 1.5 billion Muslims. Still, the zeal of these two creeds to proselytize continues unabated. The Pope's recent "call for conversion" of Asia, and the Southern Baptists' prayers for the "more than 900 million people lost in the hopeless darkness of Hinduism" suggest a very strong Christian desire for proselytizing the Indian subcontinent. They can do it. They have the power, organizations and the people to act upon their instructions.
The Islamic desire has taken to the road of violence and terrorism. The Islamic organizations have built up a worldwide network of organizations to train people in terrorist activities and send them to all parts of the world. All sorts of clandestine activities are undertaken, unashamedly to fund these terrorist cells. Mosques and madrasas are also being used to indoctrinate people, particularly children. Bodarsky, in pointing out the strong, unyielding and violent attitudes among the Islamic groups, states that "the dominant historic trend in the region (Middle-East) is adamant opposition to the mere existence of Israel, let alone peace with it." In their prayers, "Dua" of the Azzam Organization states, "O Allah! Cause this relation to come in the form of intensified attacks on the Hindu forces in Kashmir." Further, the organization states openly its support to Pakistan in its war against India. These terrorist groups have no physical boundaries. Professor Masud-ul-Hasan, in his book, "History of Islam," writes "Islam is the end all and be all of the existence of the Muslims." The American government, in supporting the Afghanistan war against Russia, poured funds and armaments into Pakistan. The Americans have created a monster they know not. They certainly don't know how to handle it. It is growing in power and its reach is extensive. Does Lord Jesus need Christian organizations with their loaded purse and devious methods to propagate the message of love? Does Prophet Mohammad need Islamic organizations with their highly devoted Jehad to propagate the message of submissiveness to God? Perhaps not. There would not be sufficient space to list the ways in which these groups may be able to destroy the fabrics of India. Christian, Islamic or other groups should be barred and restricted from any activity of forced conversions on Indian soil.
India is a secular and democratic country. The Indian Constitution provides for equality and progress for all. Every Indian has a duty to make certain that foreign groups do not play "tricks" on India. All Indians have lived together quite happily in the past. The Christian and Muslim brethren and sisters need to disassociate themselves from the clutches of these groups.[This article and more information at www.stephen-knapp.com]
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