Religion


Vote BJP 

The BJP seems to be stuck. Atleast ideologically it seems so. Who are they for? Hindus? All Indians? Upper castes? OBC? SC? What are their objectives? What are their aims? Why should I vote for them?

Will the real BJP please stand up?

Lalji Tandon, a senior BJP leader, thought he had an answer to help his party out of its misery. He decided to make a video CD about his party intended to do in Uttar Pradesh. A CD, which can even put Modi studios of Gujarat to shame.

CNN-IBN which got hold of the CD has decided not to broadcast its contents because it could lead to communal violence.

More here on rediff.com (make sure you read the comments there, plenty on fireworks!).

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At Mutiny, Polite Indian has covered the Supreme court verdict on the reservation issue comprehensively. I have been following other news on this too, specifically television programmes which aired the opinions of young students on this issue. It is interesting to note that some students who are anti-reservation are not against reservation per se. A programme on CNN IBN for example shows one student (in the anti reservationist group) saying that he doesn’t mind reservations, but for gods sake let their be a time line! Say 50 years. Another student, again from the same group, is against the creamy layer getting reservations. Another says that he wants the percentage of the quota to be reduced. I have watched other programmes too, on Times Now for example and here it is a similar story. A lot of heartburn on the creamy layer being entitled to reservations. Some insisted on reservations in elite primary schools, not higher education.

I emphathise with the moderates, although they are not called moderates. They are clubbed under anti reservationists.

I had written about the Supreme Court staying the OBC quotas on my personal blog, and had gone a step further saying that not only should the creamy layer be excluded, but people from all religions be brought under its fold. That is a very controversial opinion I realised after I got a comment about how easy it is for Brahmins to talk like this. I couldn’t quite understand that comment because I simply cannot think in terms of caste however hard I try. My identity is not Brahmin, its Indian, and to some extent – regional (Maharastrian). I think this is a lot to do with the fact that I studied in St. Mary’s school, Pune, and half the class were Christians, several Muslims and Parsees, Jains, and in fact the Hindus were in a minority. I was never conscious that I was a Brahmin and I guess that has remained with me throughout my life.

Today I feel that the disadvantaged, whatever the community they come from, should get reservations. No, I am not for reserving such a great number of seats, and I am not sure whether it is a good thing to have reservations in higher educational institutions, but I can be convinced. Also, I feel the modalities can be worked out better and there should be transparency… right now there is a belief (probably erroneous) that even those with 50 per cent marks can get into a higher educational institutions.

The good thing about the Supreme Court judgement is that everything will now come out in the open (hopefully). The main question as to who the reservations are for, should be answered satisfactorily.

And let us never forget the reasons why the non-Hindu disadvantaged are where they are today. Many of those who converted (how I hate writing this, in case someone misunderstands!) were not Brahmins.

There are a few people who sent me some links and articles on religious issues and they mentioned it is the biggest problem that India is facing these days. I know religion is one of the many problems that our country faces, particularly because India is a ‘spiritual‘ country (I believe it’s time that we call India as a ‘religious‘ country than a spiritual one). These fellow readers of my blog have been mostly worried about Christian conversion happening in India. So I thought I would write my views on religion, conversion and related issues here. Read full before you comment here.

I believe in God. My idea of God is Jesus Christ.

Why do I believe in God? There are various reasons. Aethists say it is primarily because man lost confidence in himself and relies on God for anything and everything. Perhaps it is true. I lack self-confidence in many cases and I leave it to God most of the times. I am afraid of doing things without God. I have never tried it. To this date everything in my life happened for good. Many things happened in the right time and in the most needed time. Some call it luck and some say luck is an act of God and I believe in that as of now.

Why do I believe in Jesus Christ?

Because Christianity is the religion I practiced from the childhood. What Christ taught me was to love one another and love even your enemies. I couldn’t do the latter though, I think it is something a person can do only when he/she reaches the highest level of spirituality. It is a state where one goes beyond the limitations of everything worldly, including religion. I am no where close to that spiritual level. But I found that the teachings of Christ is enough to live a good life and be a good man. I didn’t find a need to follow another religious faith.

Conversion

Let me come to the conversion issue. As a Christian, I think the church should concentrate more on making the Christians live in the ‘Christian’ way than adding more numbers. The church is supposed to stand for the poor and it fails to do so at most of the times. Church is after those who have more money. The rich need not fear the Church. Church fears/obeys the rich most of the times. Church ‘rules‘ only the poor. The rich is excused. As a Christian who was very close to the church being in the Church choir, I have seen this. So it is this thing that the Church needs to work on. So I would say do that first. Save the souls that you thought you had saved, but actually lost. Come out of the obsession of power if you want to preach real Christianity. So as a Christian, I think the conversion is something to put in the least priority in a Christian life.

A friend of mine, who is a movie person, went to a remote tribal area in Tripura for shooting a tele-serial. The producer of this serial is a priest. My friend asked him if there are conversions happening and he answered yes. It was a quick and easy “Yes” as if he was asked “Did you brush your teeth today“. He gives Rs. 10 to each person in that tribal village who attends the Holy Mass every Sunday. My friend found out that the natives go to the church, gets their 10 bucks and comes back home and worship their own tribal gods. It is as simple as that. There is no cultural wipe-off. The father knows it, the natives know it. They just do it to have 10 bucks. They don’t have any problem with it. I would say, this in no way threatening Hinduism. This is actually making Christians fools of themselves. Selling Christianity for 10 bucks or so. Adding numbers like a political party. It is a shame on Christianity and Christians.

But if a Hindu believing in Christian miracles want to turn to Christianity, it is his/her personal choice. If a Christian believing in Hindu Godmen/Godwomen miracles (like of Sai Baba, Amrutanandamayi etc) want to shift to Hinduism, its their personal choice as well. Take thousands of western followers of Amritanandamayi, Sai Baba, ISCKON as an example. I know they are not converted as in the Christian conversion model (like dipping in a pond etc), but it is also conversion. But I do not understand when a Hindu being converted to Christianity is considered as a cultural threat, but a Christian turns to Hinduism is called enlightenment by the right-wing Hindutva brigade.

As a citizen of this country, I believe religion and conversion is a personal choice and no one has the right to block it, UNLESS it is a forced conversion. If a person want to convert to another religion, it is at his will and it is his right to do so.

Conversion and Hindutva Brigade

So who has a problem with conversion? The Hindutva right-wing brigade mainly consisting of high-caste people. Although there are mass conversions of Dalits to Buddhism happening every year in India, the Hindutva brigade tend not to see it because it shows the caste based atrocities in Hinduism. From the early days to the recent Khairlanji incident, there are many examples to show. So they mostly concentrate on the Christian conversion issues.

The interesting thing is most of the tribal people who gets converted or goes to church (like in the case I mentioned above) are not even ‘Hindus‘. They do not practice Hinduism. They have their own tribal Gods. They do not worship Hindu Gods. So this hue and cry over conversion is based on the power. Like Church converts people to have more power, the Hindutva brigade is also after power. That is why they are afraid of losing control over the low-caste Hindus. This shameful fight for power was seen sometimes ago when we saw Uma Bharathi walking out of the meeting hall of fundamentalist Hindutva party BJP, accusing the leaders being discriminative.

Most of the Hindus in India are afraid that conversion is going to wipe-off Hinduism from this country and might make this a Christian majority country. This fear was put into the ordinary Hindus by the Hindutva vaadis consisting mostly high-caste Hindus. My opinion is, if a religion could survive for thousands of years in this world and that too mainly in one country, it will still survive if it has anything good in it.

Evangelists and Conversion

It is of equal importance to stop right-wing Hindu fundamentalism as well as right-wing Christian fundamentalism. If the concern of Hindutva brigade is over losing their hold in the society or gaining social and political power by misusing religious sentiments, my concern is about the national security. A few days back I read an article in Tehelka that discusses about the Evangelical network in India being used by CIA to gather information and their network is widespread. This is really a shocking news. It needs to be addressed and taken care of properly.

At times, I was also fed up with these guys lining up in the streets, praying in loud voice or telling me “You haven’t known Jesus Christ” is really sick. I cannot tolerate if such people ask my Hindu friends who live a normal life and believing in Krishna or Rama or any other Hindu Gods, that they are sinners and they will not be saved. What I believe is as long as a person lives a normal life and doing good deeds, he/she is saved/blessed by God. No matter what name that person calls the God. And these evangelists just make a hell lot of money out of this religion business too. It has become a very profitable business.

Aethism and aethists

I do not like people who pretend to be aethists and have no love or respect to the humankind but only themselves. Aethism, for them, is a fashion and a way to exhibit their ‘liberal‘ view. I don’t find much difference between those people and religious fundamentalists. But I do like and have a great respect towards aethists who are great humanitarians, who cares about humanity and do great services to the humanity. Hardcore religious people might call this stupidity, but I believe these kind of aethists are doing God’s work without the support of religion or God.

PS: Creative criticism on the issues I mentioned above are welcomed.

Cross posted here

Sunday,06-Dec,1992.I was a child of 8 years.I was watching DD News along with my parents.Karsevaks demolishing Babri masjidThere were some images being shown on the TV.A mob going wild,demolishing a structure.I asked my mother what it was, and she said ‘Some foolish people are demolishing a mosque.’I asked why.She had no answer.Neither did millions of Indians.

Babri Masjid haunts our generation.Every 6th of December is a black day.Protests pour out all over the country.The law and order situation becomes fragile.The security forces are put on high alert.Why do we need this?

Hindus and Muslims lived together peacefully for hunderds of years in this country.Agreed,there were a few disturbances.Yet India proved itself to be resilient and the differences were settled amicably.Where is that resilience now?Why do millions of people fall prey to the fancies of stupid politicians?

People say Lord Rama was born there,at the exact place where Babri once stood.I didn’t know that technology has developed to an extent where we can predict the exact birth location of a person.OK,agreed that Rama was born there and later the Muslim rulers built a mosque at the place after demolishing the temple that was there.So the Hindu fanatics demolished the mosque. Now let us assume that a temple has been built at the site.What if a few hundred years down the line a Muslim mob demolishes the temple because a mosque existed before the temple has been built?

We,the Indians,have umpteen number of issues that require a very serious attention from us-Poverty,Hunger,Child Labour,Dowry,AIDS,Corruption..the list goes on.It’s time for us as a nation to get over such petty issues.

Let us have a new beginning.We gave the world the weapon of Non-Violence.Now let us show the world our resilience.Get over Babri.Get over Gujarat.Let us build a monument that buries the centuries of hatred between the communities.Let us build the four lion statue from Sarnath. A massive one.Bigger than the Eiffel tower,bigger than Lady Liberty.

The replica of the statue erected by a Buddhist king,Ashoka,standing on the place where Hindus and Muslims fought each other.The four lions bury the centuries of hatchet under their massive feet.They roar in the four directions,announcing the arrival of India,as a nation.As a nation of single religion,Indianism.

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It was another eventful week in Mutiny, and here is a categorized summary!

  1. Music: Jo began the week with some cool news about the availability of teasers from BlogSwara and followed it up later with the news of the launch of the site.
  2. Science: Cakerfare discussed the idea behind genetically modified malaria resistant mosquitoes in tackling malaria, while Vishal followed the story of the discovery of 3.8 million year old rocks and the relevance of the discovery to geological theories of plate tectonics.
  3. Cricket: While Chacko was optimistic about the chances of the Indian team and did some number juggling, later in the week, Sridhar Kondoji felt that the products endorsed by Indian cricketers need to be boycotted as a mark of protest against the abysmal performance of the team India.
  4. Pseudo-religion: Gentledude admonished Indians for their blind faith in godmen with specific reference to Baba, and followed it by another post on the paradox of Lord Balaji being the second richest god in the world, while half of India is languishing below poverty line.
  5. Education: Polite Indian wonders if corporate punishement is needed at all, and concludes in the negative.
  6. Society: While Nita wrote for the need of sensitivity on the part of all of us in the wake of Sikh community taking exceptions to Sardar jokes, Guru pointed to Andre Beteille’s article which argued caste to be an Indian socio-economic institution.
  7. Justice: SwethaIyer’s confidence in the Indian judicial system is reinforced after the verdict of guilty for the accused in the killing of Manjunath Shanmugam.
  8. Management: Vishal, while narrowing down on the reasons for the dumb decisions that managers make, also identifies five signs that indicate trouble in an organization.
  9. News and Media: While Guru laments the dearth of “real” news, Nita finds that the marriage of Liz and Arun Nair is still the hot selling item on the streets.
  10. Tips: While Jo tips us about the free phone call service Fone Mine, Sridhar Kondoji tells you what to do when the markets are down.
  11. Issues: Guru felt that the Mashelkar committee should be terminated, and (in a follow-up post on brain drain) indicated that brain drain is not that bad after all; and, Jo dedicated a song to the victims of Nandigram.
  12. Interview: Ujj interviewed Vinod George Joseph, the author of Hitchhiker (shortly after his review of the book).

Hope you enjoyed reading mutiny and voicing your opinions on issues as much as we enjoyed our writing and hearing from you.

Hope to see you in these parts of the blogosphere soon, again!

Ever since I was a kid I have been hearing jokes about Sikhs. Being from an Army background where we mixed with all communities, we always had Sikh friends and therefore avoided repeating any such jokes, which I felt were completely unfounded. In fact I always had a soft corner for Sikhs and not just because we had friends from the community. However people who did not know any Sikhs personally seemed to feel that there was nothing wrong in making fun of the community. It wasn’t just Sikhs. They targeted Parsees and South Indians too. In fact my husband has a very good friend who is half Parsi and half Sardar. He was a target of so many jokes that he got fed up and started cracking the jokes himself as a defense measure! But precisely because the Sardars had that liberal attitude, the jokes against the community never died down.

And now the community is protesting at last. About time too. Ideas Publishing house actually published a Sikh joke booklet! This upset the community greatly and they went to the cops. In fact Sikhs have also asked the police to ban sardar jokes on the net. I am all for this because these jokes have no basis in fact. They originated in Punjab ofcourse, and some say that they were started by the Punjabis because they were jealous of the Sikhs who were brave, strong, extremely intelligent and enterprising. I do not know the truth of this rumour but this did the rounds in army circles.

Its strange that in our country we make such a hue and cry when certain communities and castes are targeted and made the butt of jokes, but making jokes about Sikhs never raised any protests. I think this reflects on the liberal attitude of the community and also the fact that they are confident that the jokes are absolute nonsense and do not in any way show the community in a true light. However, there are limits and I think in today’s day and age of political correctness and the widespread reach of the internet, it is important that we are sensitive to the feelings of ALL communities, be they Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsis, Christians or Jains.

You can listen to what some Sikhs have to say about being the butt of jokes here.

“Half of India is below the poverty line.A little more goes to sleep with hunger.”

Lord Balaji of Tirupati is the second richest god in the world.”

I now understand why India is always called the ‘Land of Paradoxes’.

People prefer to drop millions(literally!) in the Hundi’s rather than giving hundreds to the welfare of the poor or the PM’s emergency fund.I dont know if you are going to get rid of all their sins by tonsuring their heads,offering money,gold,diamonds,jewelery to the god.But I’m sure there is no greater sin than your apathy towards the people around you.The money that you give to the god may not be useful to anybody else,but the money that you donate to a NGO will definitely help hundreds,if not thousands and millions.

I read about people offering millions of Dollars and diamonds in Tirupati.If you have so much money,lay a road in your locality.Sponsor the education of hundred children.Reconstruct a dilapidated school building in your area.Organise a health camp in a slum.There is no noble deed than bettering the lives of a few people.

Heal the world…make it a better place,for you and for me and for the entire human race!!

BTW,did you know that you can make a difference to a child’s life by donating as little as Rs.800? Click on the image to know more.

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